Malaysia hospital shuts down canteen to investigate viral video of rat eating vegetables at its buffet counter

KLANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK): The canteen at the Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah (HTAR) in Klang, Selangor was ordered to stop operations and clean up, after a video emerged on social media showing a rat eating vegetables from a buffet counter.

The video has no time stamp, nor is there a clear indication on where it was filmed but it is being shared with a caption claiming that the incident took place at "Klang G. Hospital".

HTAR director Dr Ding Lay Ming said the hospital management viewed the allegation seriously and had taken proactive measures to handle the situation.

"The canteen undergoes periodic inspection on its cleanliness and safety. People can post and claim anything these days. It is still a question mark whether the video was really taken here and when it happened, but we decided to immediately direct the operator to do a cleaning.

In the 32-second footage, a rat is seen casually reaching into a dish tray and pulling out a piece of cabbage before chewing on it atop the counter where food is displayed.

"A notice was issued to the operator by the District Health Office to temporarily close the premises and have it cleaned," Dr Ding said when met outside the canteen on Friday (Aug 18).

This is not the first time the canteen has been shut down. It was ordered to shut in 2005 and 2015, for two weeks each time, due to cleanliness issues.

Dr Ding said that the current operator took over two years ago followed by an extensive renovation.

"We will leave it to the relevant authorities to investigate if the alleged video was genuine and when was it filmed," added Dr Ding.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said it was important to maintain cleanliness, especially at hospitals, with prompt removal of food waste from such premises.

He warned all canteen concessionaires at government hospitals to ensure their premises were clean and rat-free at all times.

"This involves public safety and rat urine can be a huge health issue. We will take action on this matter," he said, adding that there were committees and teams to check on cleanliness in government hospitals.

Asked if the rat problem or cleanliness was an issue at other government hospitals, he did not deny the possibility and said that they would look into the matter.