Roach problem: Prata Wala licence suspended

The Prata Wala outlet in Nex shopping mall has been issued a two-week suspension starting next Tuesday. NEA officers found cockroaches during checks. The eatery, which has since taken action to curb the problem, was also fined $800.
The Prata Wala outlet in Nex shopping mall has been issued a two-week suspension starting next Tuesday. NEA officers found cockroaches during checks. The eatery, which has since taken action to curb the problem, was also fined $800.PHOTOS: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A popular Indian restaurant has had its licence suspended for two weeks after failing to keep its premises free of cockroach infestations.

National Environment Agency (NEA) inspectors found the bugs at a Prata Wala outlet in Nex shopping centre in Serangoon Central during checks last October and in March this year.

The eatery has been issued the suspension under a points demerit system and it will kick in from next Tuesday and last until July 4.

The branch accumulated 12 demerit points over the last 12 months - six for each count of not keeping its premises cockroach free.

It has also been fined $800.

First Gourmet, the company which manages the chain of five Prata Wala mall outlets here, said that the restaurant has been free of pests since NEA inspectors last visited it in April and May.

To curb the problem, the company has hired a new operations manager and replaced the manager in charge of the Nex outlet.

It has also replaced its stewarding and cleaning service contractor, and hired a new pest control contractor.

The company also increased the frequency of its pest control service from once a month to six times a month until the situation was under control.

"We fully acknowledge and apologise for this (problem)," said First Gourmet director Joseph Lee.

Prata Wala had earlier appealed to the NEA to delay its suspension to avoid the busy June period, on grounds that the problem has been resolved.

"We accept our penalties, and we're looking past this to improve ourselves," Mr Lee said.

Meanwhile, three food stalls at #01-186 in Block 477, Tampines Street 43, will also be suspended for two weeks from Saturday for failing to keep licensed premises free of cockroach infestations. Each licensee was fined $800.

Depending on past records, a licensee who has 12 or more demerit points over a year may have his licence suspended for either two or four weeks, or revoked.

All food handlers working at the suspended premises must also attend and pass a basic food hygiene course again before they may resume work as food handlers.

The NEA carried out about 136,000 checks on food outlets and took action against errant operators in more than 2,700 cases last year, as of end November. It also suspended 137 licences.

As at May 31 this year, the NEA has suspended 61 licences this year, it said.

The authority warned: "NEA takes a serious view of these offences and would like to remind food operators to observe good food and personal hygiene practices at all times, and to engage only registered food handlers."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Roach problem: Prata Wala licence suspended'. Print Edition | Subscribe