The catering company whose meals caused at least 16 people to come down with food poisoning at Hong Kong’s largest quarantine facility was embroiled in a similar food hygiene scandal at a primary school two years ago.
About 20 students at a school in Sheung Shui fell ill after eating a pumpkin and chicken with rice lunch in 2019, according to Apple Daily. At the time, teachers only realized after some students had finished eating that the meal, provided by Danny Catering Service, had turned sour.
Students had earlier complained about the poor quality of the food and even said they had seen black spots—suspected to be mold—in their meal boxes before.
Last Friday, those quarantining at the government facility at Penny’s Bay were given cup noodles and instant oatmeal for dinner “because of the food hygiene problem,” a note distributed to quarantinees read.
Chiu Yan-loy, a Tsuen Wan district councilor, said at least 16 residents from a block of Allway Garden were experiencing gastroenteritis symptoms.
The health department has since replaced Danny Catering Service with another vendor, Delicious Chef King Catering Limited, according to local media. The government has not responded to questions from reporters about whether it went through a proper tendering process to appoint Danny Catering Services.
Raymond Chui, chairman of Institute of Dining Art, says the food may have turned rancid while being transported in the hot weather. He said there are no food factories in Lantau Island, where the quarantine facility is, so it would take time for the meals to be ferried to Penny’s Bay.
Quarantinees have long complained about the poor quality and tastelessness of meals at the facility. Photos have circulated of dubious-looking sauces with just one or two pieces of floating meat, and breakfast congee that appears to mostly be water.
One woman who stayed at the camp compared the meals to “dog food.”
“We didn’t expect the food to taste good, but at least they could give us clean and hot meals,” she told RTHK.
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