When Brink’s Singapore, a security company located at Kaki Bukit, planned a Deepavali celebration for their employees, they did not know that they were about to fall victim to a massive outbreak of gastroenteritis. Out of the 72 people affected, 46 had to be hospitalised and one person lost their life as a result – Sats officer Fadli Salleh. To cater the celebrations, Brink’s had chosen Spize Restaurant in River Valley, which specialises in Asian fusion cuisine.
After eating bento boxes prepared by Spize at the Deepavali celebrations on November 6, an initial 49 people fell ill with gastroenteritis, which is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines, typically resulting from bacterial toxins or viral infection and causing vomiting and diarrhoea.
In the days that followed, the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported that the number of affected persons had risen to 72 in total.
On Wednesday, November 14, 38-year-old Faldi Salleh, who had been in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Sengkang General Hospital, was pronounced dead.
Salleh left behind a wife and two children.
On the same day, the MOH said that 36 people had been discharged from the hospital while nine still remained, though in stable condition.
According to The Straits Times, Spize co-owner Haresh Sabnani said that a total of 221 bento boxes were delivered to six different locations on that day but that only the Kaki Bukit location was affected.
Sabnani also said he had previously tried to contact Salleh, but that Sengkang General Hospital had emailed him asking Spize to respect the family’s privacy.
Sabnani said that they would be “giving him and his family space”.
At 7PM on November 9, Spize Restaurant at River Valley had its license suspended indefinitely.
Around 16 hours ago, Spize posted this on their Facebook page:
“We in the Spize family are extremely saddened by the demise of Mohd Fadli. Our heart goes out to his wife and family.
Spize River Valley management will provide all help and assistance that is needed to the family during this difficult time.
Our sincere prayers are with them and all who are still recovering. We would like to assure everyone that we are taking all measures necessary to cooperate with MOH & AVA in the investigations and help in any way we can.”
Sabnani said that all 25 employees at the River Valley outlet have been pitching in to help thoroughly clean and disinfect the restaurant and kitchen.
To decrease the risk of further infection and outbreak, the River Valley Employees have not been re-assigned to Spize’s three other outlets at Bedok, Rifle Range Road and Siglap.
The MOH, National Environment Agency (NEA) and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) released a joint statement on November 9 saying that food, environmental and stool samples have been collected for testing and screening.
“Based on our joint investigation findings, NEA will take the necessary enforcement actions against the operator for the hygiene infringements found”, said the NEA.
Investigations found these lapses in proper hygiene at the River Valley Spize Restaurant outlet: 1) not providing hand soap, 2) leaving food uncovered in a fridge and 3) keeping knives in a gap between tables used to prepare food..
“The suspension [of Spize Restaurant River Valley branch] will be in place until NEA is satisfied that the public health risks have been addressed,” said the joint statement.