Sats officer who fell sick after consuming food from Spize restaurant has died

A 38-year-old man who fell sick after allegedly consuming food from popular restaurant Spize died yesterday.

Mr Fadli Salleh, who was married with two young children, had been in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Sengkang General Hospital (SKH).

He was one of 72 people who suffered gastroenteritis, after eating bento boxes prepared by Spize's River Valley outlet for an event on Nov 6.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday that nine people remained in hospital, in stable condition, while 36 had been discharged.

The party was for a Deepavali celebration organised by security company Brink's Singapore and held at its premises in Kaki Bukit.

Mr Fadli attended the gathering as he had been deployed to Brink's Singapore as an employee of Sats, though the event itself did not involve Sats. A Sats spokesman told The Straits Times: "We are providing support to the family during this sad and difficult time."

Brink's Singapore said yesterday: "We are deeply saddened to know that the employee of our business partner has passed away. This is a tragic situation, and we offer our heartfelt condolences to his family.

"He was a loyal colleague with a strong work ethic and dedication to serving our customers and his colleagues. We will miss him.

"We keep working closely with public health authorities as they investigate the cause of the illness."

Last night, friends and family of Mr Fadli gathered near the visitor registration counter of Block 1, SKH, some wearing Brink's uniforms.

A joint statement by the National Environment Agency, MOH and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority last Friday said that the authorities were notified of the cases on Nov 7, and they conducted a joint investigation that day. Spize's River Valley Road branch's licence was suspended at 7pm that evening.

"Several hygiene lapses were observed, including leaving ready-to-eat food uncovered in a chiller, not providing soap for hand-washing (soap dispenser was faulty) and slotting knives for preparing ready-to-eat food in the gap between the food preparation tables," said the statement.

Spize, which serves Asian and Mediterranean food, had supplied 88 bento sets to Brink's.

Spize's co-owner, Mr Haresh Sabnani, told ST yesterday before news of Mr Fadli's death was confirmed that "on that day, 221 bento sets were sent to six different locations, but only that one location was affected".

He added that he had reached out to Mr Fadli. "However, we received an e-mail from Sengkang General Hospital asking us to respect the family's privacy. So, we will be giving him and his family space."

When contacted later by ST, Mr Haresh said he was aware of the news of Mr Fadli's death, but declined to comment further.

Mr Haresh, 40, founded Spize with his brother Anil, 43. They have three other outlets, in Bedok, Rifle Range Road and Siglap.

In April 2009, more than 150 people fell ill from food poisoning after eating at an Indian rojak stall, causing Geylang Serai Market, where it was located, to be shut down temporarily. Thirty-seven people were hospitalised and two died in what was the worst food poisoning incident here. Stall owner Sheik Allaudin Mohideen was eventually fined $9,000 and lost his licence.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.