'Ayam masak merah' contaminated

ALOR SETAR: The food poisoning incident that resulted in four deaths during a wedding kenduri was caused by Ayam Masak Merah which had been contaminated by salmonella bacteria due to improper food preparation.

Kedah Health Department director Dr Ismail Abu Taat said investigations showed that the bacteria had spread to the chicken used for ayam masak merah (sweet and spicy chicken) dish after the chicken was left overnight at room temperature.

He said poor food preparation for the dish had resulted in salmonella bacteria contaminating the chicken.

Meanwhile, the cook responsible for the dish was distraught over the incident, her relatives said.

The dish was among a few served at a wedding feast in Kampung Huma, Tanjung Dawai, last Saturday.

Following the banquet, four people died while some 60 others were admitted to hospital after they showed symptoms of food poisoning.

Fisherman Yusuf Ahmad, 55, said the dish was prepared by his sister-in-law Solehah Harun, with the help of relatives and neighbours, using ingredients he bought from a market on Friday and Saturday.

The feast was to celebrate the marriage between Yusuf’s daughter Haslina Yusuf, 22, to Mohd Fauzan Zakaria, 26.

“I bought the chicken from two suppliers, but the chicken from one of the suppliers was not very fresh.

“Other than the chicken dish, I also served fish curry, spicy anchovies and a vegetable dish to my 2,000-odd guests.

“My wife Fauziah Nawawi, 40, and two children Haidatul Nadia, 24, and Mohd Sapuan, 18, also suffered nausea and vomiting and are now warded at the Yan Hospital, but they are in stable condition,” Yusuf said yesterday.

Solehah’s daughter-in-law Siti Saedah Lazim, 28, said her mother-in-law was shocked by the incident as she was the one who prepared the dish.

“She is known as a good cook in the family and would always prepare food for feasts organised by family members,” Siti Saedah said. “She is very troubled by the incident.”

The dead were identified as Nurshazana Mohd Rashid, 24, Mohd Nor Rahmat Yusof, 11, Ibrahim Mohamad, 62, and Wan Razali Yaakob, 56.

Mohd Nor Rahmat’s mother, Che Norma Khalid, said her son suffered from abdominal pain after he returned from the feast.

“His condition worsened the following morning and he was sent to the Yan Hospital. He became unconscious and died at the hospital.”

Of the 62 guests who were warded, two are in critical condition.

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