BEIJING • Popular Chinese hotpot chain Haidilao, which has five outlets in Singapore, is in the soup after hygiene lapses were uncovered in two of its restaurants in Beijing.
All its restaurants in the capital will be inspected by the authorities after a local newspaper reported about the problems last week following an undercover operation.
Hidden videos by the Evening Law Report show a rat-infested kitchen at one branch and unhygienic practices - such as using utensils to fix a clogged sewage trough and cleaning dustpans in a sink for washing dishes - at the other outlet.
Haidilao's sanitation ratings will be downgraded, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Beijing Food and Drug Administration said the inspection will take place over two weeks, and target the chain's outlets and food suppliers. It will scrutinise Haidilao's sanitation equipment and its measures to keep out pests.
The food watchdog also ordered Haidilao to open its kitchens to the public in a month and report on its new measures to ensure hygiene.
The chain apologised in a statement last Friday. "We are extremely sorry for the problems that were exposed and would like to express our sincere apology to the customers," it wrote, The Global Times reported. The chain admitted its management was at fault for the lapses and promised to ensure all its restaurants in China and abroad would keep up good sanitation standards.
Haidilao was started in 1994 and is known for its Sichuan-style hotpot and service. It says on its website that it operates in about 60 Chinese cities, and in Los Angeles, Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo. Its outlets here are at Clarke Quay, 313@Somerset, IMM, VivoCity and Bedok Mall.
The National Environment Agency was unable to comment at press time, while Haidilao Singapore could not be reached.