SINGAPORE - Confectionary chain BreadTalk has pulled its soya bean drink from its shelves, after a photograph showing an employee filling up plastic bottles with Yeo's brand soya bean milk made its rounds on the Internet.
The post, first published on online site Redwire Times on Monday evening, claimed that the chain was selling the packaged soya bean drink as "freshly prepared".
Posted by someone known as Kev, the post called the discovery "shocking".
"This 'freshly prepared' soya bean milk from BreadTalk always tasted very familiar, but somehow I couldn't figure out why until now. You see for yourself why. This BreadTalk staff is just pouring Yeo's soya bean milk into bottles of 'freshly prepared' soya bean sold by BreadTalk," he said.
When contacted, BreadTalk admitted that the drink was from a Yeo's packet, and that it buys the drink in one-litre packs from Yeo's in bulk. The company then repackages it into plain plastic bottles with the words "freshly prepared" on them, seals the bottles, and sells them at its stores.
The problem, said the BreadTalk spokesman, arose after the chain used the bottles with "freshly-prepared" labels to package the soy milk. The bottles are also used to package fresh juice for sale.
"We have heard our customers' feedback about our bottled soya bean milk," she said. "We would like to apologise for any misaligned presentation or wrong impressions created, and clarify that it is never our intention to mislead."
The chain will resume selling the drink out of labelled drink dispensers instead "to prevent misunderstanding", said the spokesman.
Retail experts said it is common for eateries to buy in bulk and then repackage items, especially with the current labour crunch. But it is less common for them to sell them as freshly-prepared.
"Firms just buy generic products in bulk or outsource production," said Singapore Polytechnic senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim, who added that it is then up to the retailer to decide on pricing. "It depends on demand, rental and other costs."
In the case of the soya bean drink, selling it as freshly-prepared would have been unethical as it gave the impression that the drink was brewed in-house.
Meanwhile, a picture of a staff member icing a Bengawan Solo layered cake at an Icing Room store, which also comes under BreadTalk, was also posted on Tuesday. It led some to ask if the under-fire bakery was also using cakes from rival bakeries.
Insisting that this was the wrong impression, the BreadTalk spokesman said: “A staff member brought in the cake on her own accord to be decorated by a colleague. This is not allowed, and staff will be reminded of that.”