Spize’s River Valley outlet to be shuttered for good after authorities confirm severe outbreak of Salmonella

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A life was tragically lost due to the food hygiene lapses by the staff at popular River Valley Road eatery Spize, but at least the authorities are planning to press charges against the restaurant in court.

This, after the National Environment Agency (NEA) found an “unusually severe” contamination during its investigations at the restaurant following a mass food poisoning case that left 47 people hospitalized with gastroenteritis. Spize’s River Valley outlet will have its license terminated, according to a joint statement made by the National Environment Agency (NEA), Ministry of Health (MOH) and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) today.

The agencies reported a total of 82 cases of food poisoning involving customers who ate food from the restaurant between Nov 6 and Nov 9. Spize River Valley had prepared bento boxes for a company’s Deepavali party, and the days that followed saw at least 72 people falling ill from consuming the packed food. 47 of them were hospitalized, and one of them — a 38-year-old father of two — died after the virus affected his lung and kidneys. The Spize outlet’s license was immediately suspended on Nov 9.

According to the joint statement today, mass food poisoning was traced back to an extreme outbreak of Salmonella bacteria at the River Valley outlet, thanks to poor food handling practices. Salmonella was found in raw and cooked food, including samples of belacan egg fried rice, sambal belacan, raw chicken samples, kangkong, and uncooked rice. A trace of the bacteria was also found on a door handle of a cold room.

Other irregularities found at the restaurant include seven unregistered food handlers, food prepared outside the licensed kitchen area and generally poor personal hygiene and preparation practices among food handlers.

To be extra safe, NEA has also inspected Spize’s other outlets at Rifle Range Road, Bedok, and Siglap, but found no evidence to link the bacterial outbreak to them. While those outlets will be allowed to remain open, Spize’s once beloved post-clubbing supper haunt at River Valley will operate no more.

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