SANDAKAN: The famous grilled fish stalls in Pasar Sim Sim (Sim Sim Market) here were closed on April 4 by the Health Department after six people were admitted to the emergency and traumatology department of Duchess of Kent Hospital here for food poisoning on April 3.
Sandakan Health Officer Dr Johari Awang Besar who inspected the stalls yesterday said the Health Department had decided to close the market in accordance with Section 18 (B) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.
Awang said an inspection and assessment was done at the market by health officers after the department received notification from the hospital that the six patients were suffering from symptoms such as vomitting, diarhoea and stomach pain.
He said that it was found that there were a few flaws that may have caused the food to be unsafe for consumption.
“Raw seafood is stored in ice containers when it is supposed to be refrigerated to ensure that the seafood remains fresh.
“Also for the structure of this market, it should be rearranged and cleaned. We could see that the fans are rusty and dusty and this may cause the dust to be in contact with the food served to customers.
“Action taken under this act has no limit (to how long the market should be closed). This place could be reopen anytime if upon inspection and assessment, it isfound clean and safe and when the sellers are able to serve food that is clean and safe,” he explained.
Johari added that the Health Department also does not have the intention to close the market for too long as it is famous amongst tourists from in and out of the country.
“I was informed that a gotong royong is going to be held tomorrow (April 8). I believe the MPS (Sandakan Municipal Council) would be helping to clean up too. Then this would give sellers an opportunity to demand from MPS what needs to be improved here,” he said.
Johari said that he personally thinks that the market should be upgraded since it is one of the tourist hot spots.
Meanwhile, Johari said that the six patients have been treated and are now safe and healthy.
All the stalls were ordered to close including those selling grilled seafood and beef soup.