April 8, 2009

Rojak food poisoning


Singapore: Victims ate seafood items

Source of Article:  http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_361172.html


By Judith Tan

MOST of those who came down with food poisoning after Indian rojak at Geylang Serai had sampled either the prawn fritters or cuttlefish, or both.

That was what Dr Helen Oh, a senior consultant dealing with infectious diseases at Changi General Hospital, established after staff spoke to the 77 patients treated there.

The seafood items were believed to have been contaminated by Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria, a common cause of food poisoning associated with consumption of raw or partially cooked seafood.

Twelve victims, including the first death, had tested positive for the bacterium, a sub-species in the same family as those that cause cholera, by Health Ministry's investigations.

'It is not as common here. The more common causes include salmonella, staphylococcus aureus and e.coli,' she said.

Salmonella is a bacterium found in poultry, eggs, unprocessed milk as well as meat and water. E.coli can be found in undercooked meat, unpasteurised apple juice and milk, and salads.

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria is found on the skin and in the nostrils of up to 25 per cent of people and animals worldwide.

Gastroenterologist Tay Khoon Hean said: 'If the food handler does not adopt proper hygiene or is a carrier, then he passes this bacteria on and the food he touches would pass the germs on to the people who eat it.'

To ensure seafood is safe, Dr Oh said clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, and other mollusks should be cooked.

'Raw seafood - or meats for that matter - should be kept well chilled, at refrigerator temperatures, even while defrosting. They should never be defrosted in room temperature,' she said.




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