Mall rat drops in on foodcourt diners
The rodent was found to be alive but inactive when a cleaner from the foodcourt captured it immediately after the sighting.
-Westgate marketing communications manager Mandy Chiu
She was tucking into her favourite dish at her favourite foodcourt on Wednesday evening when she heard screams.
When Ms Khoo Ai Kim, 56, looked up, she saw the reason for the ruckus.
A rat had dropped from the ceiling, causing diners to bolt from their seats in shock.
Ms Khoo and a friend, Ms Callie Quek, 47, who are real estate agents, had gone to Food Republic at Westgate mall for dinner.
Ms Khoo said she was eating yong towfoo when a rat fell from the ceiling of the foodcourt and landed on an empty tray at a nearby table.
She said a couple sitting at an adjacent table jumped up in shock and ran away.
"The other (diners) around them looked stunned at first, but some screamed once they realised what was going on," she said.
The commotion lasted for about three minutes, with the rat, which was fat and about 20cm long, remaining on the tray before a cleaner trapped it with another tray and removed it.
Ms Khoo and Ms Quek, and other customers continued eating after that.
Westgate's marketing communications manager, Ms Mandy Chiu, confirmed in an e-mail that the rat had fallen from the ceiling of the foodcourt.
She said: "The rodent was found to be alive but inactive when a cleaner from the foodcourt captured it immediately after the sighting."
Ms Chiu said this was the first such incident in the mall.
"Our mall's cleanliness standards are of great importance and we have instituted tenant guidelines on proper housekeeping and pest control."
She said the foodcourt has stepped up its pest control efforts after the incident.
"We are working closely with the foodcourt to prevent a repeat of such incidents, and have also reminded our other F&B (food and beverage) tenants of the cleanliness guidelines and stepped up our checks on them.
"We regret the inconvenience caused to the affected shoppers."
Ms Khoo, who lives in Hougang and goes to the foodcourt about four times a week, said she was unfazed by the incident and would continue to eat there.
She said: "Westgate is still a nice place with good parking and ample seating at the foodcourt. So I don't see why I shouldn't return."
Another diner, retiree Richard Lee, 62, believes isolated incidents involving pests are inevitable, especially at F&B outlets.
He said: "I think that every foodcourt will have this issue once in a while.
"It is a matter of how effective the management is at trapping the rats and ensuring that they do not contaminate the food."
"The rodent was found to be alive but inactive when a cleaner from the foodcourt captured it immediately after the sighting."
— Westgate marketing communications manager Mandy Chiu