Rojak is an important Singaporean dish.  To the Indonesian rudjek, basically a salad, is added (for the Indian version most popular in Singapore) yu tiao, sort of a doughnut; ju her, a cuttlefish salad; taupok, which are tofu puffs; or pei tan, which are preserved duck eggs.  What is usually not added is something–still unidentified–that has sickened over a hundred Singaporeans, may have caused a spontaneous miscarriage by a 38-year old pregnant woman and killed at least two people.  Unfortunately, this is exactly what has happened at Sheik Allaudin Mohideen’s stall at the Geyland Serai temporary market in Singapore.

When we think of Singapore, we think of clean.  We also think of an amazing health care system, which costs one-third the per capita cost of U.S. healthcare

So when food poisoning occurs in Singapore, you get a Singaporean response.  Emergency rooms in three Singapore hospitals began filling overnight Friday with people vomiting who had all eaten food from the stall.  Mr. Allaudin, whose stand has been in business for over 20 years, arrived at his stand at 8am Saturday morning to find health officials who shut the stand down.  The remaining stands were inspected and found clean and allowed to open. 

One possible causeVibrio parahaemolyticus.  Its presence has been confirmed in two cases, but it has not been positively identified as the cause of the illnesses and deaths.

There is one lesson to be learned already, and it comes, unfortunately, from the sad story of the woman who miscarried, who was excited to be carrying a child by her new, second husband.  She had had a yearning for rojak, and her husband had brought her some on Friday from her favorite stand.  According to a report in Channel NewsAsia, "She noticed the Rojak smelled unusual [but] carried on eating it." 

I suspect she won’t do that again.  And I imagine she wishes she had followed the basic advice not to eat food that smells off.

(The image is provided by the Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/)