SINGAPORE - Raw fish salad bar Aloha Poke has apologised after a customer found a large dead spider in her salmon poke bowl last Thursday (May 10).
Mr John Chen, one of the co-founders of the home-grown eatery, told The Straits Times on Monday that the Katong kitchen where the Deliveroo order was prepared will also be closed for two days for thorough investigation and cleaning.
On Friday, Facebook user Siew Ping wrote about her "amazing spiderman" experience in a post, which has since been shared widely online.
She said that she ordered a Standard Nalu salmon bowl, comprising two scoops of marinated or seasoned raw fish, via food delivery service Deliveroo at about 9.30pm on Thursday with a friend.
But while they were eating, they were shocked to find a dead spider, which was "limp and soaked with sauce, at the base" of her salad bowl.
She added: "It wasn't small."
When she alerted Aloha Poke to the issue, they apologised and explained that their salad supplier had received similar feedback, she said.
"Perhaps, spiders are not as bad as rats or roaches. However, as Aloha Poke is handling raw food and that is susceptible to bacteria growth and contamination, their hygiene standards cannot be compromised at any time," she added.
Mr Chen said that Aloha Poke was alerted to the situation on Friday morning and reached out to Ms Siew Ping's husband, Wilson, to "take full responsibility and apologise unreservedly".
He added: "We are as horrified that such a large spider was found at the bottom of a customer's bowl.
"We give our assurance that we will do our best to prevent such incidents from reoccurring ."
In an update to her Facebook post, Ms Siew Ping said that she had submitted a report of the incident to the National Environment Agency (NEA).
She has also since received a full refund for her meal and $20 worth of Deliveroo credits.
Mr Chen added: "We also agreed to have Wilson update us should any of them fall ill over the next few days."
The bowl with the spider was prepared at Aloha Poke's Deliveroo Editions kitchen in Katong, which has an "A" rating for cleanliness by the NEA, he said.
Deliveroo Editions, which opened in April 2017, allows chefs from selected restaurants to prepare meals on site. They are provided with cooking equipment and storage facilities, in addition to Deliveroo's fleet of riders.
A monthly pest control check is also carried out at the kitchen, with the most recent one on May 2.
However, Mr Chen said that after discussions with Deliveroo, Aloha Poke decided to close the kitchen for two days for investigations and cleaning.
Deliveroo Singapore's general manager Siddharth Shanker told ST that Deliveroo was shocked to learn about the incident, which was the "only incident of this nature" it had encountered.
“Deliveroo will voluntarily close all kitchens at Katong for one day in order to conduct our internal investigation," he said.
He added that it was investigating along with Aloha Poke and the National Environment Agency.
In addition, the eatery has reached out to its key salad supplier, which Mr Chen said is a local company with tight procedures in insect monitoring and removal.
The vegetables are grown in open fields and even with controlled use of pesticides, garden insects and pests may be inevitable, he said.
Hence, while its mesclun salad comes pre-washed, staff will also take the additional step to wash it a second time.
"Unfortunately, our existing measures were not fail-safe," Mr Chen said, adding that he believes the incident to be an isolated one.
He said that staff have since been reminded to adhere to strict operating guidelines and the eatery will continue to improve its processes.
Aloha Poke became Singapore's first poke shop, selling the popular Hawaiian streetside staple, after opening its Amoy Street outlet in 2015.
It currently has seven outlets, with another one opening soon at Takashimaya Shopping Centre.