Singapore health officials report completing investigations into the food poisoning incident at Spize Restaurant located at River Valley Road.

Salmonella bacteria (red)/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Salmonella bacteria (red)/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

A total of seven food poisoning incidents were found to be linked to Spize Restaurant, involving 82 cases who had consumed food from the restaurant between 6 and 9 November 2018. 47 cases were hospitalized, and one individual had passed away. The cause of death is pending and it has been classified as a coroner’s case. The rest of the cases have since recovered. No cases linked to other Spize outlets were reported.

A joint inspection conducted by officials in early November found several serious hygiene lapses were found. These included leaving ready-to-eat food uncovered in a chiller, not providing soap for hand-washing and slotting knives for preparing ready-to-eat food in the gap between the food preparation tables. In view of the substantial health risk posed, the restaurant’s operating licences were suspended following the inspection.

Through laboratory investigation,  a commonly occurring bacterium, Salmonella Typhimurium, was isolated from the clinical samples of some affected cases, raw and ready-to-eat food, and environmental samples from the implicated premises. All of the Salmonella Typhimurium isolates were found to be closely related to each other by genetic analysis, suggesting that they are from the same source. There was also other bacterial contamination found in ready-to-eat food items and surfaces that came into contact with ready-to-eat food.

The investigations found that the outbreak of Salmonella gastroenteritis was unusually severe, suggesting that the food was likely to be heavily contaminated. There is strong evidence of severe contamination from poor hygiene and food handling practices, and contamination of ready-to-eat food and the environment.