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Food poisoning hits 2nd preschool

  Saturday, 14 l 05 l 2011  Source: The Straits Times   
By: Amelia Tan and Jane Ng

30 taken ill at The Children’s Place, which uses the same  caterer as Pat’s Schoolhouse 

A SECOND preschool served by catering firm Mum’s Kitchen Catering has been hit by food poisoning. Twenty-two pupils and eight teachers have fallen ill at The Children’s Place in Kay Siang Road. Meanwhile, another 15 children from Pat’s Schoolhouse, the childcare chain affected on Tuesday, have been hospitalised. It brings the total number of its pupils warded to 22. One teacher has also been hospitalised and about 300 children reported ill with related symptoms after eating a meal of seafood spaghetti. Forty-seven of them have since recovered.

The Straits Times understands that those in hospital have severe symptoms of food poisoning such as vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever – but their condition is not life-threatening. Mum’s Kitchen Catering’s licence has been temporarily suspended by the National Environment Agency pending the outcome of investigations. Its central kitchen is located in Bedok North. Those affected at Pat’s Schoolhouse were mostly aged two to six, and were from six centres in Halifax Road, Lim Ah Pin Road, Whitley Road, Claymore Road, Mount Emily and Jalan Ulu Siglap. Those in hospital come mainly from two centres – Halifax Road and Lim Ah Pin Road in Serangoon. Ms Tan Leng Na, principal of the Halifax Road branch, said Tuesday’s lunch was delivered between 10.15am and 11am and kept in the kitchen before it was served from 11.30am to 11.45 am.

Among the new hospital admissions was three year-old Kayden Goh, who had been having diarrhea every hour. He was admitted to hospital on Thursday night and was on an intravenous drip as he did not want to eat or drink anything. His father Vincent Goh, 39, who works in sales, said Kayden started having diarrhoea after he returned home from school on Tuesday evening. It got progressively worse, and Mr Goh and his wife Synde, 37, took him to the hospital when his fever rose to about 40 deg C on Thursday. Mr Goh said he and his wife were initially very upset. “But we calmed down later as the school has been open and apologetic,” he said. “However, we would still like to find out what went wrong.”

Pat’s Schoolhouse founder Patricia Koh decided to cut short her work trip in the United States. She told The Straits Times she has been getting regular updates on the situation but decided to return. “My team is working very hard and I want to be here for them. I’m worried for the children but appreciate that the parents have been very supportive.” She added that this was the first outbreak of food poisoning in the chain’s 23-year history, and it “will take care of all the medical claims as it is our responsibility”. The centres are now preparing the meals in-house. “If the investigations show that Mum’s Kitchen is at fault, we will terminate their services,” she said.

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