A timeline of how a man died from food poisoning after eating food from Spize’s River Valley outlet

Google Maps screengrab
Google Maps screengrab

Spize is a pretty popular restaurant chain with its four outlets across the country offering reliably good halal-certified Asian and Western fare till the wee hours of the morning. Its branch at River Valley — a post-clubbing supper haven when Zouk was still at Jiak Kim — went through a revamp in 2014, trading its street-side eatery vibe for a chic aesthetics and cafe-like interiors.

That particular branch, however, will find it superbly hard to get its usual stream of patrons coming in day and night. Especially after a man died from gastroenteritis yesterday after digging into food prepared by Spize’s River Valley outlet last week.

Here’s a rough timeline of what happened.

Nov 6

According to The Straits Times, Spize River Valley had prepared bento boxes for a Deepavali party organized by security company Brink’s Singapore on Nov 6. Spize co-owner Haresh Sabnani informed ST that his restaurant had supplied 88 bento sets for the party.

Nov 7

A joint investigation was launched by the Ministry of Health (MOH), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore after they were alerted to a total of 49 people afflicted with food poisoning — 21 people even needed hospitalization. The cases of gastroenteritis were traced back to the consumption of food prepared at Spize’s outlet at 409 River Valley Road.

With gastroenteritis, the stomach and intestines are irritated and inflamed, typically caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Symptoms involve vomiting and diarrhea.

Inspections conducted on the premises that day found several hygiene lapses, including ready-to-eat food left uncovered in a chiller, the lack of soap for hand-washing and knives being stored inappropriately.

Nov 9

In a joint statement, MOH, NEA, and AVA assured that the outlet’s license was suspended, and will only be restored after public health risks have been addressed.

Along with the suspension, NEA ordered the restaurant to dispose all of its food items and conduct thorough sanitization of its premises, including equipment, utensils, works surfaces and toilets. The authority also assured that the necessary enforcement actions will be taken against Spize for any infringements found.

On Facebook, Spize issued a statement of regret and promised to work with the authorities to establish what exactly went wrong.

Nov 14

The New Paper found out yesterday morning that the number of people affected by the food was way higher: 69. The number of people hospitalized stood at 46, the MOH confirmed.

Though many were discharged, one remained in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Sengkang General Hospital. The patient had been in critical condition, with the virus affecting his lungs and kidneys.

Hours later, ST confirmed that the man died.

The number of people with gastroenteritis was upped to 72. As of last night, nine people remain in stable condition in hospital, while 36 others have been discharged, confirmed MOH.

Fadli Saleh

The deceased has since been identified as 38-year-old Fadli Saleh, an employee of Changi Airport’s ground-handling firm and in-flight catering service provider SATS. He leaves behind a wife and two young children.

Though the Deepavali party did not involve SATS, Fadli had attended the gathering as he had been deployed to Brink’s Singapore, his employer’s business partner. Spokespeople from both companies have expressed their condolences to Fadli’s family.

“He was a loyal colleague with a strong work ethic and dedication to serving our customers and his colleagues. We will miss him,” said a Brink’s Singapore spokesman, adding that they will continue working closely with public health authorities in the investigations.

Speaking to ST, Haresh expressed his extreme sadness over the news and mentioned that he will be giving Fadli’s family some space as Sengkang General Hospital requested him to respect the family’s privacy.

“We would like to assure everyone that we are taking all measures necessary to cooperate with MOH and AVA in the investigations and help in any way we can,” he added.

Since the man’s death, both condolences for Fadli and criticism against Spize have been surging online.

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