The recent passing of Mohamad Fadli Mohd Salleh as a result of consuming tainted food catered by Spize River Valley outlet is not one to be taken lightly and one that is pretty close to home.

The deceased is a relative of my wife’s grandaunt.

My wife’s grandaunt was feeding my baby when she got the call about his passing, I was seated right next to her.

This post is not about who he is. I’ve never met him before but this post is about the possibility that such an incident could have been prevented.

About a week or so before the unfortunate incident on Nov 6 where 81 people had become ill having consumed food catered by Spize, my wife had ordered food to her office.

She too fell ill having consumed food ordered from there and the victim could have been her.

A report was lodged on NEA’s online platform and an officer subsequently called my wife back later to inform that they had conducted checks and informed that everything was in good order. No lapses were discovered.

But I have my doubts now that I’ve read the news report from TNP. It was reported by TNP, ‘Several hygiene lapses were found, including leaving food uncovered in a chiller, not providing soap for hand-washing and slotting knives in the gaps of food preparation tables.’

Now, these lapses are operational lapses.

Lapses that were committed as a result of habit by the staff, and failed to be enforced by the management on duty at the outlet. A team of individuals who have utter disregard for cleanliness and safety in preparing food to be served to paying customers.

I don’t want to cast doubt on the ability of the NEA officer who went down to check after our complaint or to cast doubt on the ability of NEA as an organisation but to have a major incident occur within a short span of our complaint for a similar case is too close of a coincidence.

Questions continue to linger in my head because I honestly believe that such an incident could have been prevented.

Learning from the 2009 incident that occurred to Geylang’s rojak stall, word on the ground from that incident that because the shops are so closely placed to each other, one man’s lapse could have affected the other. In that case, it was widely speculated that the cause of death was rat’s fecal matter (pee). The rat, wasn’t from that shop, but had traveled from another’s.

I’m of the opinion that in this particular case, beyond just Spize, NEA should, whenever a food poisoning case is reported, to also check on neighbouring food outlets to ensure the entire vicinity of food outlets is clean and safe from such lapses.

It will no doubt cause inconvenience but in such a case where life and death is at stake, and with such a precedence from 2 cases, I believe it’s high time that more stringent action is taken.

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