Lest you’ve forgotten, the Spize mass food poisoning incident was the first that led to many others in a short span of a month.
On 9 November 2018, after 82 people fell sick upon having catered food from the F&B establishment and one passing on, the operating licence of the River Valley outlet was suspended.
Soon after, it became a falling row of dominoes as a series of other mass food poisoning incidents occurred, with the latest one being in Mandarin Orchard Singapore.
After about a month of investigation by the authorities, it turned out that it was indeed a hygiene lapse: a very serious one that has made the authorities fuming (I didn’t make that up: they used the word “angry”).
Here are ten facts about this unfortunate event that we hope we’d never have to encounter again.
For the uninitiated, here’s what happened: on 6 November 2018, 82 people suffered gastroenteritis after consuming bento sets from Spize in River Valley. 45 people were hospitalized and unfortunately, one man has passed on. The outlet remains closed. Authorities then conducted their investigations by taking samples from the outlet, once on 7 November 2018 and another time on 14 November 2018.
Inspections Found Several Food Hygiene Lapses
Turned out that there were quite a number of lapses. Firstly, there was no soap for hand-washing. Secondly, food were prepared outside the kitchen area and thirdly, the food handlers had poor personal hygiene and poor preparation practices.
And remember that they came back for a second inspection? Pretty sure it was an unannounced one because they found out that some foods that should be discarded when the license was suspended weren’t discarded.
What you’re going to read next might just make your blood boil: eggs that were meant to be discarded were sent to another Spize outlet to use.
Now, remember: the outlet’s license has been suspended and those items should be discarded lest they’re still contaminated.
Unregistered Food Handlers Found
Remember the second announced inspection? Well, they also found seven unregistered food handlers.
If you’re old like me who used to work part-time in F&B during your school days, you’d remember that if you’re a food handler, you’d have to take a mandatory typhoid vaccination (injection!). However, that has been discontinued since September 2010.
Nevertheless, food handlers still have to be registered with NEA.
Laboratory Tests Found Many Bacteria
To simplify things, just remember that Salmonella Typhimurium is a bacterium (bacterium is the singular of bacteria) that can cause gastroenteritis. Salmonella Typhimurium was found in the food, in their raw chicken and kang kong.
In additional, faecal bacteria, which are usually found in faeces because they generally originate from the intestines of warm-blooded animals like us humans(yes, we’re talking about shit), were found on a chopping board and knife that’s used for ready-to-eat food.
I won’t need to speculate how the bacteria came about, do I?
The whole outbreak is considered “unusually severe”.
Operating License Terminated
Yesterday (7 December 2018), it’s announced that the operating licence of the Spize outlet in River Valley has been terminated with immediate effect.
It also found out that there were apparently seven food poisoning incidents linked to the outlet between 6 November 2018 to 9 November 2018 (the case of mass food poisoning was on 6 November, and the outlet was suspended on 9 November).
Owner Wanted to Close Down the Outlet
It’s not just common sense but business sense to close down the outlet.
According to The Straits Times, Mr Haresh Sabnani, the co-founder of Spize, has indicated his desire to “sell a part of their business.”
He added, “We have taken and continue to take significant steps to ensure that we maintain a high hygiene standard at all our other outlets. We have also since engaged the services of a credible food hygiene consultant to identify any hygiene issues and to resolve them.”
They would also be issuing a statement soon.
Let’s just say that if you lose your driving license, you probably won’t be keeping your car in the car park unless you’re rich AF.
The Authorities are Angry. Very Angry
I kid you not. Here’s what NEA’s director-general for environmental public health said: “We are angry and upset, and it is unbecoming that the operators are not taking (food hygiene) seriously… It is really unbecoming that our operators are not taking this seriously.
“We will ensure that the appropriate weight of the law is taken upon them, for the lack of this minimum duty of care.”
In addition, they’ve checked the other outlets and found nothing, but has this to add: “Spize is in our crosshairs now. We will keep a watch on them.”
Fierce (and angry), indeed.
And it’s good to know that we’ve got authorities who are passionate about their responsibilities.
Spize Could be Charged
According to the director-general, the owners of Spize would be taken to court, though no other information is disclosed. As mentioned, they would apply “the appropriate weight of the law”.
Reports stated that the owners could be charged for offences under the Environmental Public Health Act and the Sale of Food Act, with the offences carrying a fine of $5,000 to $10,000 for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders could face a jail term.
Other Outlets Still Operating
The authorities have checked the other outlets and they found nothing unusual. In other words, you can still dine in the other outlets.
If you want lah.
The other three outlets are at Bedok, Rifle Range and Siglap.
Facebook Page of Spize in River Valley Closed Down
While you can still find the River Valley Spize Facebook Page in Google…
…the Page has been shut down.
In addition, on its website, the River Valley outlet has also been removed from its listing.
However, on its main Facebook Page, it’s still listing the River Valley outlet as its address.
Now, let’s all just hope that this would be one lesson that other F&B establishments would learn.
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