Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's not our fault you can't prove it

So on Monday evening I bought a sandwich wrap and yoghurt to-go from a rather atas nearby sandwich shop, brought it back to the office and devoured it inside of 15 minutes.

8.5 hours later, I was warded in a hospital for food poisoning and pre-mature contractions.

I just spent 2 days in the hospital with a needle in my left hand, and a concoction of antibiotics, dextrose solution and saline being drip-fed into my vein. Every 2 - 3 hours, a timer would go off and would continue until a nurse came to change the drip. Therefore, every 2 - 3 hours, I would wake up, night and day. I was not permitted to eat or drink for 18 hours.

After my discharge, I called the sandwich shop to let them know about the problem, and to ask them to please reimburse me for the hospital bill. I told them about the timeline since eating the food and getting the symptoms, the doctor's findings and the doctor's view as to the most likely and probable cause. I also told them about how the quality and colour of the output matched the quality and colour of the input.

They gave me a long description of their food safety procedures. Going by their account, no one could ever get food poisoning after eating at their establishment. They suggested that I should look to other possible sources of funding for my hospital bill. They indicated as a gesture of good faith that I could possibly look to claiming on their public liability insurance, but would need to provide a full medical report and all findings to their insurer. I would probably also need to deal with their insurer directly. Finally, there would be no guarantee of a successful claim, since I was unlikely to be able to prove that they were the cause of the problem.

They were apologetic about the fact that I had almost miscarried. However, it was likely not caused by them. However, my complaint would go through the proper procedures and would be responded to shortly.

112 Robinson Road
#01-01 HB Robinson
tel. 223 5197
Open 8am to 8pm

They can treat this as my food review.


At 7:16 PM, Anonymous gena said...

Oh, don't stop there. Drop a few thousand flyers around the neighbourhood for good measure. Just don't get caught with said flyers in your possession.

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Indiana said...

I hope you got the insurance details.

And instead of flyers, I would be continuing this review on as many websites as you can.

Glad you are ok.

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Beelala said...

The crowds at Munch has been increasing though...

Anyway... try Simply Sandwich next time. It's better. Then Sandwich Shop.

At 9:11 PM, Blogger expat@large said...

There's this great rojak place in Geylang I've heard about...

At 3:02 AM, Blogger FREIYA'S WARDROBE said...

thank god both of you are ok though.

reimbursing your hospitalisation bills will only be a slap on the wrist for them... *sigh*

At 9:58 AM, Blogger JesuaFreak said...

*phew* at least both of u r safe..

well. i will help u plug your food review.

They ought to be suspended lo.

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you check with NEA what rating they were given for hygiene? :D

Hey, I used to buy sandwiches at Munch! So much for atas salmon sandwiches!

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous inex said...

I'm just glad to hear you are ok.

At 2:39 PM, Anonymous cheryl said...

Really glad to hear that you and the baby are ok.

But surely complaining on a blog can't be the only action you can take against them for giving you food poisoning. That's shocking. And quite disheartening too.

At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lets see ... how would I do this.
1) Write to NEA with your doctor's findings.
2) ST, LHZB, Berita Harian, Today, My Paper, Tamil Murasu.
3)When they call you back this time you will ask for compensation not only for the hospital bill but for emotional trauma, opportunity costs for income lost.

But you are a big gal ... you already know these things ...

Glad you and baby are fine.

At 1:26 PM, Anonymous else said...

i read your blog whenever i feel the need to decompress or simply a laugh. and it never disappoints. i'm sure there are probably many others out there (from lurkers anonymous) who appreciate the lovely rants/moments of insanity/memories all rolled into one easy click for smoot. so erm, thank you. =)

At 11:28 PM, Anonymous elle said...

It's good to know your baby is safe. I nearly lost mine to food poisoning 9 years ago after eating oyters and shell fish at the Ritz Carlton buffet.......stupid me did not think about making a claim!

At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh dear...glad you are fine...Munch is my favorite salad place...will think twice about going now

At 9:09 PM, Anonymous cakie said...


such buttholes!!

At 1:38 AM, Blogger -ben said...

Ow, I so love the last line.

'Glad you're okay.

At 4:14 PM, Anonymous C said...

Res ipsa loquitur?

Thank God baby's safe n hope u're alright by now. Take care!

At 1:14 PM, Blogger noshie said...

Dear Jennifer,

We are glad that the baby and your self are in good health. We are sorry to hear that you were hospitalised.

Since your complaint, the NEA has inspected the premises and found nothing wrong with our food practices. You may refer to Mr Sathi for further information.

As promised, we forwarded your claim to our insurers as they will be in the best position to ascertain liability. You mentioned also that you ate at a hawker centre earlier at 1.30pm on the day of the incident, and home cooked food later on. Our insurers will look at these circumstances as well as the fact that you took away the wrap and consumed it outside of the store premises when evaluating your claim.

The duck is prepared fresh every day and on the day of the incident, a duck salad was also prepared for sale. Conservatively, at least 20 customers must have consumed duck from the same batch. None of them have come back to us thus far.

We hope this clarifies the issues you raised in your blog. We wish you and your baby good health.

Kind regards

Edwin Ng

At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you sure it wasn't the hawker food that gave you poisoning? food poisoning usually takes a couple of hours to act up.. i empathise with your situation but perhaps it wouldn't be that fair to put all the blame on them either!

At 10:58 AM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

I have to say I am speechless.

Of course it can be said that anything can cause food poisoning, or symptoms that could present as food poisoning. It could come from the water, the air, have been transmitted by physical contact, vector, etc.

Of course it can also be said that the only way to prove conclusively that I got food poisoning from Munch is if I can also prove that I neither ate nor drank anything for the 24 - 48 hours prior to, or after, the said wrap/ sandwich and yoghurt. Naturally, by that time, both the baby and myself would either be dead or hospitalised for a host of other reasons and the issue of a little food poisoning would be moot.

The real issue is this. Did I have the food poisoning so that I could claim for my hospital bill, or do I have a claim for my hospital bill because I got food poisoning? Also, what is the appropriate assessment of my claim against Munch? Why did I not mention or ask for 2 days of lost earnings at $600 per hour, average of 5.5 hours per day? Why did I keep the claim to a mere reimbursement of expenses which I have already paid, and not the rest of my foreseeable damages?

By way of pure statistics, one would usually get food poisoning within 6 - 8 hours after consumption of the meal. This takes into account the 3 to 4 hours for the stomach contents to move into the small intestine and for food and bacterial absorption to commence. It was established in the Geylang Serai case.

Finally, it would be interesting to see the timelines involved. 20 people eat duck at a certain point in time. They do not get food poisoning. Does this prove that the duck will never cause food poisoning, even with the passage of time? Will the duck meat never decompose? Will it never be tainted by bacteria? Did the 20 people come at lunchtime or dinnertime? Between lunchtime and dinnertime, could it possibly be said that nothing could possibly have contaminated the duck meat?

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous C said...

Moral of the story - Do not argue with a lawyer. They would have thought of all possibilities of arguable facts before they speak. So there u have it.

In addition to posting it on her blog, Smoot shld have called the Wanbao hotline too. Who knows she might get herself a $50 voucher for providing "news", as well as put pressure on Munch.

Oh, I'm so evil. Hahahaha...

At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Earthtone said...

It's great news that you and baby are fine ! That's the most important thing. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy.

At 11:55 PM, Blogger knobby said...

yikes. just saw this. glad you're okay.

At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your blog, never been to Munch. Am very glad to hear that both you and baby are well.

But I'm also a bit puzzled why a food vendor should pay for your hospitalization bills on pure statistics of digestion alone, especially if you've also noted that it will be hard to prove conclusively that the food from Munch was definitely responsible. Surely in all fairness, we would want to be certain that someone is specifically guilty before requesting that they pay up, especially since the symptoms of food poisoning also overlap with those of gastrointestinal infections?

Might the issue then become "I am claiming from Munch because they represent the best chance of reimbursement compared to a hawker stall?" Munch can certainly consider reimbursing your claim on some nebulous notion of customer service and goodwill, but may be wary of whether that would be considered an admission of guilt on their part. Maybe you should consider following up with the NEA inspectors to see if there's anything else that you can use to build your case on?

At 11:47 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Smoot - love your blog (just quirky enough to touch my funny bone somehow!)

But not this post!... that must have been a frightening experience with a baby to worry about, I'm so glad you are both OK.

.. remembering my micro lectures ... the onset is pretty well related to the pathogen ... your Doc may help pin it down.

Here is a good site:

C perfringens onset 8 to 22 hrs, usually 10 or 12.

eg salmonella 6 to 72, usually 12 to 36 hours.


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