SINGAPORE - A man who died after eating food from popular restaurant Spize had consumed it more than three hours after its delivery.
The coroner's court heard on Thursday (Aug 15) that the delay may have contributed to Mr Mohamad Fadli Mohd Saleh's death on Nov 14 last year.
The bento boxes were sent to the Kaki Bukit office of security company Brink's Singapore at 11.33am on Nov 6 last year and an invoice from the eatery stated that the food had to be eaten within an hour of delivery.
The invoice also stated that Spize would not be liable for the health of those who consumed the food beyond the recommended time.
The court heard that Mr Fadli, 38, who was a Sats officer, ate after 2.53pm.
Mr Pream Raj Sinnasamy, who is from the Ministry of Health's (MOH) communicable diseases division, testified in court on Thursday that food left at room temperature in Singapore's climate could provide a favourable condition for bacteria to proliferate.
When queried by State Counsel Gabriel Choong, Mr Pream Raj, the assistant director of MOH's surveillance, epidemiology and response branch, added that it was "possible this gap between when the preparation was completed to consumption may have contributed to the death".
However, the court was also told that there were others who fell ill despite eating the food within an hour of delivery.
Mr Fadli, who was a father of two, died of sepsis and multiple organ failure on Nov 14 last year after he was hit by acute gastroenteritis.
The court heard that Spize's River Valley outlet prepared the bento boxes for a Deepavali celebration at the Brink's Singapore Kaki Bukit premises on Nov 6 last year.
Mr Fadli attended the gathering as he was deployed to Brink's Singapore, though the event itself did not involve Sats.
In all, there were seven food poisoning incidents linked to the Spize River Valley outlet between Nov 6 and 9 last year. Of the 221 people who consumed food prepared there during this period, 82 reported falling ill.
A joint inspection of the eatery on Nov 14 that year by the National Environment Agency (NEA), MOH as well as the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore revealed lapses.
These included having seven unregistered food handlers and preparing food outside the licensed kitchen area.
An earlier joint inspection on Nov 7 last year found other lapses such as leaving ready-to-eat food uncovered in a chiller and not providing soap for washing hands.
A commonly occurring bacterium, salmonella typhimurium, was found from blood and stool samples of those who fell ill, as well as in the raw and ready-to-eat food and environmental samples taken from the outlet.
They were closely related by genetic analysis, suggesting that they were from the same source, the agencies said in a joint statement last December.
The NEA terminated the operating licences of the Spize restaurant in River Valley Road on Dec 7 last year.
Spize's three other outlets were also checked as a precaution and were allowed to continue operations. They were located in Simpang Bedok, Rifle Range Road and Siglap. The eatery's Siglap outlet ceased operating earlier this year.
State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam will issue her findings on Aug 23.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.