Death of Sats officer who ate food from Spize ruled an ‘unfortunate misadventure’: Coroner
The Coroner’s Court on Friday, Aug. 23 ruled the death of a Sats officer as an unfortunate misadventure after he consumed contaminated food from the Spize eatery in River Valley.
Mohamad Fadli Mohd Saleh, 38, died eight days after consuming a bento box on Nov. 6, 2018 during a company event.
Fadli was one of 82 people who fell ill after consuming food from Spize.
He was an auxiliary officer attached to security company Brink’s Singapore.
“The joint investigations by the agencies uncovered several alarming lapses in the food handling and food preparation methods which directly contributed to the outbreak of acute gastroenteritis.” State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam said.
The coroner’s findings has allowed this matter to come to a close.
The coroner made these following findings:
Lapses in food preparation
• The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) conducted joint investigations on Nov. 7 and 14.
• The premises of the Spize Restaurant outlet was found to contain strains of salmonella in the bento sets.
• The strains were also found on raw food items and surfaces.
• The contaminated areas included the door handle leading to the cold room and the cold room rack at the outlet.
• This suggested a cross-contamination with raw meat, borne by the food handlers.
• Faecal matter was also detected in the Ready-to-Eat food, belacan egg fried rice, in this case, and in the kitchen tools such as the chopping board and knife used in the chicken rice preparation.
• MOH officers noted that there was no soap for hand-washing at the handwashing basin in the kitchen.
Unusually severe outbreak of salmonella
• Investigations also revealed that seven of the 34 food handlers had not been licensed with NEA.
• They also had not attended the basic food hygiene course.
• The preparation of raw vegetables was discovered to have been done in unlicensed premises on level two of the outlet.
• An MOH report noted that the outbreak was unusually severe.
• This was due to the short incubation period and high number of hospitalised cases involving relatively young people.
Non-compliance with instructions
• On Nov. 9, 2018, NEA officers visited Spize Restaurant to serve a suspension order.
• The order was to Spize, the River Valley outlet, and its food handlers.
• During investigations, Spize was ordered by NEA to discard dried foods such as dried salted fish, chicken floss, fish crackers and eggs.
• However, the food items continued to be stored at level two of the outlet or sent to a different outlet.
• The outlet’s food establishment licenses were cancelled on Dec. 6.
What happened to deceased
• 88 bento sets were prepared at Spize restaurant outlet at 409 River Valley Road on Nov. 6 between 9.30am and 10.30am.
• Food was collected at 11.10am and delivered to the Brink’s Kaki Bukit office and Tai Seng office.
• 57 sets were collected at 11.33am by the company staff at the Kaki Bukit office.
• The staff signed off an invoice that stated that the food must be consumed within one hour of delivery.
• The invoice stated that Spize would not be held liable for the health of guests who consumed the food beyond the recommended timing.
• The food was placed in an air-conditioned room.
• Fadli arrived in the office at 2.53pm.
• Fadli ate the food after his arrival, but the exact time could not be determined.
• He returned home later that day and experienced pain in the stomach and had bouts of diarrhoea and vomiting throughout the night.
• He went to the Raffles Medical Clinic branch near his house with his wife the next morning.
• Fadli developed a fever of 39.9°C.
• He was diagnosed with gastroenteritis and prescribed medication.
• Fadli was told by the GP to go to the emergency room if his condition were to worsen.
• Fadli’s condition did not improve.
• On Nov. 8, Fadli was conveyed to Sengkang General Hospital.
• Fadli’s stool samples tested positive for salmonella.
• His condition deteriorated and he suffered a cardiac arrest on Nov. 14.
• He was pronounced dead at 7.19pm.