Payout time!

Singapore January 10th, 2008

Prima Deli will be making payout to customers and franchises who are affected by the salmonella outbreak. All customers who are affected by the entire episode may submit their claims to Prima Deli directly. Franchises who are affected by it may also do so as soon as possible.

This is probably the start of a series of PR work that PD is trying to do in restoring customer confidence in them. From the feedback that was published, it seemed to be working pretty well.

Good for them.

PRIMADELI has begun making payouts to customers and franchisees hit by the salmonella outbreak late last year.

The Straits Times understands that the company has made good on 15 of the 186 claims for medical bills; another 23 have been approved, 60 more are being processed and the rest are being followed up on.

Just over 200 people were hit last November in Singapore’s biggest recent mass food poisoning outbreak, and 15 were hospitalised.

Investigations traced the bug to PrimaDeli’s chocolate cream cakes. Salmonella was found in the bakery chain’s ingredients such as its hazelnut paste and chocolate cream, its cake samples and 14 food handlers.

After 27 days of clean-up operations and checks by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, PrimaDeli was back in business on Jan 1.

Ms Pansy Wong, the deputy general manager of Prima Food, told The Straits Times yesterday that as payouts were still being made, the dollar amount was not available, although she reckoned it could run into the millions.

She confirmed that Prima would compensate victims for their hospital and medical bills and cakes, and that, to make a claim, they must fill out a form and send it back with supporting documents, such as receipts. Prima would forward these to its insurer.

Prima has given each of its 23 franchisees an initial payout amounting to seven days’ loss of profit during the outlets’ month-long closure, to ‘defray some of the expenses first, such as rental of shop space and staff salaries’, said Ms Wong.

In the next two weeks, Prima will prepare compensation for the remaining days that the shops were closed.

Ms Wong gave the assurance that franchisees would be paid in full soon, but added that payouts would vary among franchisees, according to their shop sales.

Two franchise owners The Straits Times contacted were satisfied with the compensation packages from Prima and described them as ‘fair’.

Among the four affected customers who spoke to this newspaper, none has so far received compensation. They are either waiting for their claims to be approved or have yet to submit their claims.

Three complained that they ought to be reimbursed for more than just their medical bills and cakes.

Pharmacy assistant Anizah Yusof, 19, whose family of 22 fell sick, is still trying to put a dollar amount to the distress her family was put through.

‘Our suffering was really traumatic. We could not sleep and some relatives had to take unpaid leave.’

Ms Wong said the company would leave it to its insurer to assess suitable compensation for such claims.

diothman@sph.com

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 10th January 2008



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