Spize food poisoning: 2 firms fined $32,000, 'insufficient evidence' against any individual over death

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·2-min read
Spize’s River Valley outlet. (PHOTO: Google maps screencap)
Spize’s River Valley outlet. (PHOTO: Google maps screencap)

SINGAPORE — Two companies that were involved in the 2018 Spize mass food poisoning incident were fined a total of $32,000 after being convicted of 14 related charges on Thursday (3 December).

Spize and Spize Events were convicted of six offences and eight offences respectively.

Spize was convicted of possession of food unfit for human consumption for sale through the bento sets contaminated with salmonella, failure to ensure a door handle leading to the cold room, a chopping board and a knife were kept clean, and alteration of licensed premises without approval.

Spize Events was convicted of hiring seven unregistered food handlers, and alteration of licensed premises without approval.

On 6 November 2018, food contaminated with salmonella was supplied by Spize to Brink’s for a company event. A total of 96 persons consumed the food in 88 bento sets delivered. Among them, 63 developed gastroenteritis symptoms after consuming the food and 45 of them were hospitalised.

One of them, Mohamad Fadli Mohd Saleh, a 38-year-old auxiliary police officer attached to Brink’s, died on 14 November 2018 after consuming a bento box packed by Spize. He died from sepsis and multi-organ failure following acute gastroenteritis.

“However, there was insufficient evidence to link Mr Mohamad Fadli’s death to the negligence of any particular individual. As a result, no charges were preferred against any individual,” the Attorney- General’s Chambers and the Singapore Food Agency said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The 88 bento sets were prepared between 9.30am and 10.30am on 6 November 2018. They were delivered to Brink’s Kaki Bukit premises and Tai Seng premises between 11.00am and 12pm. It was stated on the invoice issued to Brink’s that the food must be consumed within an hour of delivery to guarantee freshness, and consumption of the food beyond that period was not recommended.

On 6 December, the National Environment Agency cancelled the food establishment licenses of Spize’s River Valley branch.

In its sentencing submissions for the case, the prosecution said, “We must take a firm stance against food hygiene lapses because the consequences, as this case has shown, can be fatal...The sentence imposed must reflect the severity of this mass food poisoning outbreak and deter other food establishments from similar unsafe practices.”

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