A food poisoning case concerning 30 University of Macau students has been attributed to a centralized kitchen with poor hygiene practices, the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) has disclosed.
Students who consumed food from the centralized kitchen owned and operated by Heyday Catering Group Company Limited on Nov. 15 began experiencing symptoms of food poisoning that same afternoon, including diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting.
The authorities suspect the cause to be pathogenic bacteria, and the possibility of more individuals being affected cannot be ruled out, the IAM added.
On-site investigations discovered that workers at the kitchen had low awareness of food safety practices and that the kitchen had substandard cleanliness. Additionally, cooked ingredients were found to be improperly stored, leading to the immediate suspension of the relevant operations.
Should breaches of food safety standards be confirmed, those responsible will be prosecuted, the IAM said.
Heyday Catering Group Company Limited owns and operates a variety of brands and businesses, from coffee shops and sushi joints, to bubble tea and dessert venues.
The group’s alleged involvement in a food poisoning case has sparked discussion and criticism on social media platforms. A screen cap reportedly depicted text message conversations within one of the group’s subsidiaries, claiming that the unsold and uncooked ingredients could be repurposed for the use at the Chinese kitchen. Several social media posts made similar claims.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of an event, director of Education and Youth Development Kong Chi Meng gave an assurance that lunch supplies to local schools will be handled appropriately.
The official said the centralized kitchen is also a supplier of lunches to some local schools. The suspension of operations has impacted meal services to these schools.
In addition, Kong said the education bureau has guidelines for schools and tuition centers on food safety and food supplier reliability.