Saudi poisoning case: Corrupt food inspectors attempted to conceal, destroy evidence

Royal directives mandate holding of all responsible officials accountable, regardless of position


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Published: Sat 25 May 2024, 10:22 AM

Investigations by Saudi authorities have revealed that attempts to conceal or destroy evidence were made in the food poisoning incident linked to Hamburgini restaurant in Riyadh.

The Oversight and Anti-corruption Authority (Nazaha) officials' findings suggest potential collusion by a small number of unscrupulous food establishment inspectors who prioritised personal gain over public health and safety.

Hamburgini restaurant food poisoning claimed one life and 75 were hospitalised due contaminated mayonnaise. From the 75 cases, 69 of those who fell sick were Saudis, while six were expats. Laboratory analysis revealed the presence of the Clostridium botulinum bacteria, the cause of botulism, in a sample of 'BON TUM' mayonnaise served at the said restaurant.

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The Nazaha affirmed that the incident is contained and resolved. Furthermore, Nazaha confirmed accountability measures will be implemented against any individuals found negligent in public safety protocols or obstructing the investigation and concealing crucial information regarding the poisoning's cause.

Royal directives mandate the holding of all responsible officials accountable, regardless of position. This applies to those who neglected or delayed fulfilling their duties, actions which may have contributed to the poisoning or hindered response efforts. Consequently, a high-level committee has been established to verify and oversee the implementation of these directives.

Relevant authorities, including ministries, agencies, and committees, received royal directives to conduct a thorough investigation. Comprehensive reports detailing the circumstances, causes, and those potentially responsible for the poisoning were produced around the clock.

The epidemiological investigation swiftly confirmed the incident was isolated to a single Riyadh restaurant. Precise laboratory testing, conducted by local and international foodborne illness specialists, identified the type and cause of the poisoning.

The conclusive results from these laboratories pinpointed a specific food additive as the source of the contamination. This additive was promptly removed from markets and food establishments nationwide.


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