A food poisoning incident at a local restaurant in Riyadh has resulted in the hospitalisation of 35 individuals. (For illustrative purposes only.) Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority confirmed that anyone found negligent in the Riyadh food poisoning incident, or involved in actions that jeopardize public health, or in misleading the investigation, will be held accountable.

The authority emphasised that it would hold every official accountable, regardless of his position, if he is proven to be failed or delayed in performing their responsibilities, thereby contributing to the poisoning or delaying the response to its consequences,. A higher committee has been formed to verify the incident and ensure the implementation of accountability measures.

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The authority issued a strongly worded statement regarding the food poisoning incident in which 35 people suffered poisoning at a Riyadh restaurant three weeks ago.

The authority took decisive action under the directives of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who followed the incident with great interest and instructed competent authorities to investigate the incident thoroughly and submit their reports and findings.

The authority stated that the incident has been contained and resolved, and hence those who have been proven to be involved will be held accountable. It has determined the facts related to the causes of the poisoning, and preliminary investigations have revealed attempts to hide or destroy evidence.

It revealed that there may be collusion among a few unscrupulous observers and inspectors of food establishments who sought personal gain at the expense of public safety and health.

The authority emphasised that the swift action was taken within the framework of the Kingdom's efforts and potential to ensure the safety and public health of citizens and residents living in the country.

During the initial hours of the epidemiological investigation, it was found that the poisoning was confined to one restaurant in Riyadh. The incident was followed by competent authorities’ efforts to conclusively determine the type and cause of the poisoning through precise laboratory tests conducted in local laboratories and research centres, in collaboration with international laboratories with extensive experience and specialized knowledge in food poisoning.

The results obtained from these laboratories proved beyond doubt that the source of the poisoning was limited to one of the complementary food additives. The source was immediately identified, and the additive was completely withdrawn from markets and food establishments across all regions of the Kingdom.