When you think of preschool, chances are you will think of cute and bubbly kids, kind-hearted and nurturing teachers,
self-entitled understanding and loving parents, and also that one matronly principal who reminds you of your grandmother, right?
Well, that’s mostly the case I would reckon.
Save PCF Sparkletots, which saw at least 109 people falling ill from various as-yet unspecified outlets, with 15 taken to the hospital.
Pretty sure it was a horrific sight, and not to mention, smell.
Four PCF Sparkletots Affected
According to The Straits Times:
“Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao reported on Wednesday morning (March 27) that the Ministry of Health (MOH), National Environment Agency (NEA) and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) were investigating the cases, which occurred across four Sparkletots outlets.”
If you can’t already guess from the acronyms and the ministries and statutory boards involved, this appears to be yet another case of gastroenteritis, or more commonly known as food poisoning, or stomach flu.
The Same Caterer
All the patients were found to have previously eaten food prepared by food supplier Kate’s Catering.
A spokesperson from PCF Sparkletots told Zaobao that authorities were alerted to the situation last Friday (22 March) and had immediately inspected Kate’s Catering’s premises located at Kampong Ampat.
On Monday (25 March 2019), upon receiving reports of more new cases, NEA took further steps and instructed Kate’s Catering to suspend all operation while the authorities investigate.
ST reported that stool samples from food handlers, as well as food samples, were taken by the authorities for evaluation.
It is unclear if the 109 patients consist solely of students or if there were teachers and parents involved.
A Very Specific Preschool Food Poisoning Spate
If you are wondering why this incident sounds familiar, well, it probably is.
This appears to be the latest of at least a spate of three incidents that has taken place over the last three month.
Hell, that’s a lot.
On 1 Feb 2019, 14 children fell ill, exhibiting vomiting and diarrhea symptoms, after a lunch at PCF Sparkletots Toa Payoh West outlet.
A spokesperson for PCF Sparkletots revealed a caterer was engaged to provide food for the Toa Payoh West branch but did not disclose the name of the caterer.
On 26 February, news broke that 31 people were taken ill after lunch at MindChamps pre-school along Tanglin Road just the week before.
Consisting of 30 students and 1 teacher, the 31 “allegedly fell ill after eating lunch provided at the pre-school and had fever, vomiting and bloatedness.”
A joint inspection was undertaken at the MindChamps PreSchool @ Tanglin premise which was subsequently followed by an inspection of the premises of the unnamed school’s caterer.
How to prevent Gastroenteritis
If there’s anything to learn about gastroenteritis, or more specifically the prevention of it, here are some steps provided for by MOH.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after going to the toilet, eating/preparing food or changing diapers
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating
- Ensure food (especially filter feeders e.g. oysters and shellfish) is thoroughly cooked before eating
- Disinfect surfaces contaminated with diarrhoea or vomitus immediately by using 1 part 5.25% bleach to 9 parts water
- Wash contaminated clothing or linens immediately
- If unwell, do not prepare food for others
While these steps do not eliminate the threat of bad food from errant caterers, it does serve to minimize occurrence in high-density population places like -you’ve got it- a preschool or a childcare.
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