Singapore

Bak kut teh outlet suspended for 2 weeks for unclean practices

A bak kut teh restaurant set up as a social enterprise to employ ex-convicts has been suspended for two weeks by the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh's outlet at Simpang Bedok was taken to task for one count of preparing food on the floor and two of failing to keep the premises clean, according to a notice on NEA's website.

The chain, which has five outlets across the island, was fined $1,000 for accumulating 14 demerit points over the last 12 months. The other outlets are not affected.

The NEA has issued 56 suspension notices to food outlets this year. Common offences include failure to register assistants, selling unclean food, and rodent or cockroach infestation.

Soon Huat founder Jabez Tan told The Straits Times that NEA officers had spotted raw pork ribs packed in sealed bags in a bucket on the floor of its Bedok outlet in December.

It was also penalised for an unclean dishwashing area in January last year and a rusty fridge this February, he said.

He said he did not know the meat had to be at least six inches off the floor, and has made platforms to comply with this at all outlets.

Mr Tan, 42, wrote in a Facebook post that "at no time was the food exposed or at risk of being exposed to the floor".

He added that the ribs weighed more than 30kg and it was difficult to thaw them on a table, but he never intended to violate guidelines.

Apologising to customers, he said some of the staff will be out of work for the two weeks and he expects losses of between $20,000 and $30,000.

"We will also use this opportunity to upgrade our kitchen and create new dishes to serve you better."

The outlet will reopen on June 13.

NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AGENCYfood