Skip to main content

How Did Seafood Bacteria Enter Indian Rojak Sauce With No Seafood Ingredients?

Indian rojak sauce, a local Singapore peanut sauce, does not contain any seafood ingredient.

Yet, in 2009, Vibrio Parahaemolyticus - a seafood based bacterium - was linked to a massive food poisoning case in Singapore and even resulted in two fatalities. How did this bacterium cross contaminated with a peanut sauce which had no seafood ingredient?

This was one of the case study highlighted in the Food Hygiene Course I attended as part of the Workforce Skills Qualifications training as part of upgrading.

This course is compulsory for all food handlers in Singapore, even if the food handlers are service staff and are even part time staff. If, during investigation by the National Environment Agency in Singapore, establishments have food handlers who have not attended the course may face six demerit points per handler. Twelve demerit points results in immediate suspension of the establishment for two weeks.

In this course, I learnt that bacteria cross contamination is the major leading cause of massive food poisoning cases in Singapore. Compared to the other causes of food poisoning, bacteria formation is naked to the eye and can neither be tasted or smelt to prevent food poisoning.

For example, if yeast starts to form on the food, you can smell it. If it smells bad, you will throw it away. If molds start to grow on food, you can see the greenish colour alteration on the food and you will throw it away. Viruses can only survive on a living hosts. So that leaves bacteria, naked to the eye, tasteless and produce no smell.

Bacteria strive in humid temperatures between 4 Degrees Celsius and 60 Degrees Celsius. If each bacteria strain takes 30 minutes to multiple, within four hours, you could have a bacteria farm forming on your food be it cooked or uncooked.

Bacteria do not die at low temperatures and they just go to "sleep" at below 4 Degrees Celsius and will only be killed at high temperatures at above 60 Degrees Celsius. As such, cooked food posed to be a more fertile ground for bacteria formation as one is most likely to reheat it at more than 60 Degrees Celsius for next consumption.

Cross contamination of bacteria into food is also one of food poisoning cases in Singapore. This lead us back to the Indian Rojak Peanut Sauce food poisoning case.

Unfortunately, the exact source of the contamination of the April 2009 food poisoning case was not determined as the food remnants were all cleared, a similar incident in 1983 drew parallel with this April 2009 case. In the 1983 case, it was determined that some frozen cuttlefish was placed on the top level of the chiller for defrosting, while the Rojak sauce uncovered and placed at the bottom of the chiller. As such, the juices from the defrosting cuttlefish dripped down the Rojak sauce, causing cross contamination from a seafood to a non seafood dish.

As such, the conclusion for the April 2009 Rojak sauce food poisoning could have been caused by similar circumstances.

From this case study, while it is convenient to just place items in the chiller as one would like it, defrosting raw items should be placed at the bottom of the chiller and cooked food should be placed in covered containers at the top of the chiller to prevent cross contamination.

Prevention of cross contamination was also constant reminder during the course because cases of food poisoning in Singapore has been mainly due to cross contamination. In December 2007, several reported cases of food poisoning when they consumed a chocolate cake from outlets of a popular bakery. It was found that the cake samples had the Salmonella bacteria and the bacteria came from food handlers at the main factory.

Since food handlers provide food to the masses, a single source of contaminated food can spread to many instantly. Depending on the immunity of the affected individual, food poisoning could lead to fatality.

As such, it is important for food handlers to attend this training so as to remind oneself on the importance of reducing food contamination, especially those from cross contamination.


Popular posts from this blog

Why is Ramly Burger banned in Singapore?

Yahoo Singapore ran an article of the Ramly Burger by highlighting that it is ban in Singapore.

Yet, the writer from Makansutra failed to address the most important issue of why the Ramly meat patty is banned in Singapore.

A search online easily did highlight that the famous Malaysian meat patty is banned by the AVA but didn't go into details.

Wrote Arlina Arshad for The Straits Times in January 2004,

"But the importing of beef and beef products from Malaysia is not permitted, said theAgri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

Selling and supplying them without a permit is also an offence, and offenders can befined as much as $50,000 or jailed two years, or both, said the AVA."

In May of the same year, another article highlighted that a man was even charged in court for "smuggling" the Ramly burger in 2004.

"The AVA said that meat products processed in Malaysian food factories which it had notapproved were banned here.Suzali was yesterday jailed for four month…

Those Who Gamble Online Have Poorest Control - NCG Survey In 2012

Singapore will soon exempt local operators, Singapore Pools and Turf Club, from online gambling ban and the sites will be ready in November 2016.

Ministry of Home Affairs explained that a complete ban on remote gambling drives demand and activities underground, and may create larger incentives for criminal syndicates to target Singapore."

Yet in a 2012 survey by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCG) found that those who gamble online have the poorest control.

For those who indulged in online gambling, 30.4% said they gambled for a longer period than they planned to, 33.3% gambled with more money than they planned and 29.2% gambled more frequently they planned to. 
Will launching the online gambling sites be like opening a Pandora Box that will create more issues in the future?

A Very Small Chicken Or An Oversized Popcorn Chicken?

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Singapore Facebook Page recently received a complaint of the size of the chicken being served at KFC.

Barnabas Ng took a photo of his chicken from KFC which showed it to be almost the size of the KFC small container. It also looked like a an oversize popcorn chicken.

Wrote Barnabas,

"Hi KFC, is this your new standard size for a chicken? I order 3 piece meal and 2 pieces including this so called original recipe chicken is smaller than the size of the cap of ur small mash potato.

Have you guys try to cut cost so much that you are offering half a size chicken pieces for a full price meal? It is just getting from bad to worse"

KFC Singapore did reply to Barnabas for him to PM his mobile number but Barnabas has yet to receive any calls from KFC Singapore, as of this posting.

Maybe chickens are also shrinking with the current climate change?