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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

No fear of E. coli for shoppers here

Supermarts say business not affected as produce are not from affected countries in EU
The Straits Times - June 14, 2011
By: Feng Zengkun
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No fear of E. coli for shoppers here

SINGAPOREANS are taking the recent E. coli outbreak in Europe in their stride.

Supermarkets The Straits Time spoke to said business has not been affected by the outbreak, and shoppers said they are not worried.

The outbreak originated in Germany and has spread through contaminated vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers.

It has killed 31 people and made more than 3,000 sick, with most of the victims in Germany and Spain.

But supermarkets here say they have not been affected as their produce does not come from the affected countries.

Local supermarket chains Sheng Siong, Shop N Save and Cold Storage said they do not carry any produce from the European Union.

A spokesman for FairPrice added that the supermarket chain carries only Mandarin oranges from Spain, and does not sell vegetables or other fruits from the affected countries.

Checks by The Straits Times on several outlets show the fruit and vegetables are imported mainly from Malaysia, Thailand and China.

Shoppers The Straits Times spoke to were equally sanguine.

Madam Theresa Yap, 43, said she was not concerned at all because the outbreak has mostly affected people in Europe.

The housewife added that vegetables in most Chinese recipes are cooked, which kills bacteria.

'I think most people here are very health-conscious,' she said. 'Even if we're making salads we will wash the vegetables thoroughly.'

Businessman Eldon Eng, 32, said he was not worried because of the Government's track record in handling health scares.

He pointed to the recent concerns over Japanese food imports after the nuclear crisis in Fukushima. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) here banned many Japanese food imports due to fears of radiation.

'I haven't heard of anyone falling sick from radiation here, so I'm quite sure nothing will come of this outbreak too,' Mr Eng said.

The AVA has said that only about 2 per cent of vegetables here are imported from the EU.

It is also testing samples of leafy vegetables, cucumbers and tomatoes from every imported batch to make sure the produce is safe before releasing it for sale.

It said it will continue to monitor the situation closely.

The Ministry of Health said there was no cause for concern here, but that travellers to European countries should be more careful.

It advised travellers to avoid eating raw vegetables and to maintain good hygiene by washing their hands after handling food.

They should also look out for symptoms of E. coli, such as bloody diarrhoea, and go to the hospital immediately if the symptoms occur, the ministry said.

Mr Harry Chua, 29, a banking executive who is planning to travel to France with his friends, said he is taking no chances.

'We were thinking about going to Germany as well, but maybe we will do that next year instead.'

 

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