Caterer fined $5,000 for filthy kitchen infested with cockroaches, houseflies
AG (Global) Events Catering pleads guilty to 2 charges, fined $5,000
Infested with cockroaches and flies, the caterer's kitchen was filthy, with water dripping from the ceiling into the cooked food.
Dirty water from the kitchen floor also splashed into uncooked food placed on the ground.
In the first such case prosecuted by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), the caterer was hauled to court yesterday for its unhygienic premises.
Adrian Lim Teck Lien, 42, the sole proprietor of AG (Global) Events Catering, was fined $5,000 after pleading guilty to two charges under the Sale of Food Act.
The charges were for breaching regulations on the storage of food and the maintenance of the food establishment.
According to the Singapore company's website, AG (Global) Events Catering was the caterer for several big events, including the Standard Chartered Marathon in 2013 and the arrival ceremony of the giant pandas Jia Jia and Kai Kai in 2012.
It also said it has catered food for numerous government agencies and schools, including the National Environment Agency and the National University of Singapore.
The court heard that on June 19, an SFA officer carried out a routine inspection at the caterer's premises at Admiralty Street.
The officer discovered cooked food being contaminated by condensate dripping from the unclean ceiling, and water from the cleaning of the kitchen floor splashing onto uncovered meat and vegetables placed on the ground.
He also noticed the kitchen, dry store and ingredients preparation room were infested with cockroaches and houseflies.
Water had collected due to broken tiles and an uneven floor, stagnating in the ingredients preparation room and kitchen.
There was also no soap at the various hand-washing sinks.
SFA prosecutor Daniel Lim told the court it was imperative a strong message be sent that such unhygienic practices were not condoned, as contaminated food from caterers was harmful to the many Singaporeans who consume such food daily.
He added the caterer had previously been warned for poor hygiene practices, but such practices continued to persist at the company's premises. He urged the court to impose a fine of $6,000.
In mitigation, the accused, who was not represented, claimed he had been busy during the period trying to get more business.
In a media release yesterday, the SFA said immediately after the inspection, all finished food products, semi-processed food items and raw ingredients at the premises were disposed of. The operating licence of the caterer was also suspended from June 20 to July 16.
The suspension was lifted after the lapses were rectified and measures were taken to improve the cleanliness of the premises.
Responding to further queries from The New Paper, a spokesman for the SFA said the caterer was previously already issued warnings and composition fines in 2017 and 2018 for hygiene lapses found at its premises.
The spokesman added it was also suspended in 2018 from Dec 4 to 13, in view of the severity of the lapses and in the interest of public health.
Food poisoning made headlines last year and was also a hot topic discussed in Parliament in January.
This was after five major incidents that affected more than 600 people involving Spize, FoodTalks Caterer and Manufacturer, TungLok Catering, Team Catering and Mandarin Orchard Hotel.
A Sats officer also died after eating a Bento box from Spize.
The authorities slammed irresponsible outlets, promising to step up enforcement action in the interest of public health.
The SFA urges the industry and consumers to play their part.
"Food safety is a joint responsibility as food can be contaminated anywhere along the food chain," it said.
"SFA will take enforcement action against food operators who do not adhere to regulations or comply with food hygiene and food safety requirements."
Offenders convicted of breaching the regulations under the Sale of Food Act can be fined up to $5,000 a charge, and in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine up to $100 for every day or part thereof during which the offence continues after conviction.