The gastroenteritis outbreak at the River Valley outlet of popular Asian fusion restaurant Spize saw its first fatality on Wednesday (14 November).
Fadli Salleh, 38, had been in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Sengkang General Hospital after eating bento-box meals prepared by Spize’s River Valley outlet for an event on 6 November.
Fadli was married with two young children.
A total of 72 people suffered gastroenteritis – inflammation of the stomach and intestines – allegedly after consuming food from Spize, growing from an initial news report of 49 cases. The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Wednesday that nine people remained in hospital in stable condition, while 36 had been discharged.
Food was for Deepavali celebration
The food was catered for a Deepavali celebration organised by security company Brink’s Singapore, and held at its premises in Kaki Bukit.
Fadli attended the gathering as he had been deployed to Brink’s Singapore as an employee of Sats, the chief ground-handling and in-flight catering service provider at Changi Airport. The event itself did not involve Sats.
A Sats spokesperson said that the company is providing support to his family during this “sad and difficult” time, while Brink’s Singapore also said, “We are deeply saddened to know that the employee of our business partner has passed away. This is a tragic situation, and we offer our heartfelt condolences to his family.
“He was a loyal colleague with a strong work ethic and dedication to serving our customers and his colleagues. We will miss him.
“We keep working closely with public health authorities as they investigate the cause of the illness.”
‘Several hygiene lapses were observed’
MOH, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) were first notified of the cases on 7 November, and conducted a joint inspection of the restaurant’s premises on the same day.
A joint statement by the three authorities on 9 November said, “Several hygiene lapses were observed, including leaving ready-to-eat food uncovered in a chiller, not providing soap for hand-washing (soap dispenser was faulty) and slotting knives for preparing ready-to-eat food in the gap between the food preparation tables.”
Spize, which serves Asian and Mediterranean food, had supplied 88 bento sets to Brink’s Singapore. Its co-owner, Haresh Sabnani, told The Straits Times that “on that day, 221 bento sets were sent to six different locations, but only that one location was affected”.
He added that he had reached out to Fadli and his family, but “we received an email from Sengkang General Hospital asking us to respect the family’s privacy. So, we will be giving him and his family space”.
Licence suspended until health risks addressed
Haresh, 40, founded Spize with his brother Anil, 43. They have three other outlets, in Bedok, Rifle Range Road and Siglap.
With effect from 9 November, NEA has suspended the licence of Spize Restaurant at River Valley Road. The suspension will be in place until NEA is satisfied that the public health risks have been addressed.