Burger & Lobster fined $3k for food safety lapses after 132 diners suffer gastroenteritis

Burger & Lobster Singapore was fined $3,000 for multiple food safety lapses, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said in a statement.

In May 2022, SFA received reports of gastroenteritis involving 132 people who had consumed food at Burger & Lobster's Jewel Changi Airport outlet between May 7 and 15, 2022. Five of them were hospitalised.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and SFA conducted a joint investigation at the licensee's premises and found multiple food safety lapses, including poor housekeeping, cracked kitchen floor tiles, using a dirty oven toaster, and failure to employ a food hygiene officer for the premises.

Their food business operations were suspended from May 16 to July 5, 2022 in the interests of public health.

SFA also directed the licensee to rectify the lapses and take necessary measures to improve food safety practices and the cleanliness of its premises.

SFA reminds all food operators to ensure their premises are clean and well-maintained, and staff are adequately trained on proper food safety management.

Those found to have violated the Environmental Public Health (Food Hygiene) Regulations may be fined up to $2,000. In the case of a continuing offence, they can be further fined up to $100 for every day or part thereof during which the offence continues after conviction.

In a separate incident, GH Enterprise and its director were fined $7,000 and $5,000 respectively for illegally importing fresh vegetables for sale and failing to prevent the offence from being committed.

Seized consignments of illegal imported vegetables from GH Enterprise Pte Ltd. PHOTO: SFA

In April 2023, officers from SFA detected about 1.5 tonnes of undeclared and under-declared fresh vegetables, including spring onion and spinach, in the consignments imported from Malaysia by GH Enterprise. All illegal consignments were seized.

In Singapore, fruits and vegetables can be imported only by licensed importers, and every consignment must be declared and accompanied by a valid import permit, SFA added.

Illegally imported vegetables are of unknown sources and can pose a food safety risk if, for example, unregulated or high level of pesticides are used. The long-term ingestion of excessive pesticide residues through the consumption of vegetables that have been subjected to pesticide abuse could lead to adverse health effects.

Offenders who illegally import fresh fruits and vegetables can be fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to three years, or both.

SFA also fined Yan Zai Seasoning $2,500 for operating an unlicensed non-retail food business under the Sale of Food Act.

Processing and packing activities conducted illegally at Yan Zai Seasoning Pte Ltd. PHOTO: SFA

On Nov 9, 2022, officers found Yan Zai Seasoning engaging in illegal food processing and packing at its premises located at 19 Jurong Port Road.

The premises was not licensed to conduct food processing and over 145kg of dried food products were seized.

Food imports in Singapore must meet SFA’s requirements and food safety standards as illegal processing and packing of food products at unlicensed facilities poses a food safety risk, SFA said in its statement.

Offenders who illegally process and pack food products at unlicensed facilities can be fined up to $5,000, jailed for up to three months, or both.

The SFA urged members of the public who come across poor hygiene practices at food establishments to make reports to the agency. 

Those who come across illegal activities are also encouraged to report them to the SFA via www.sfa.gov.sg/feedback or the agency’s contact centre at 6805-2871.