Bak kut teh outlet suspended for 2 weeks

A bak kut teh restaurant set up as a social enterprise to employ ex-convicts has been suspended for two weeks by the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh's outlet at Simpang Bedok was taken to task for one count of preparing food on the floor and two of failing to keep the premises clean, according to a notice on NEA's website. The chain, which has five outlets across the island, was fined $1,000 for accumulating 14 demerit points over the last 12 months. The other outlets are not affected.

The NEA has issued 56 suspension notices to food outlets this year. Common offences include failure to register assistants, selling unclean food, and rodent or cockroach infestation.

Soon Huat founder Jabez Tan told The Straits Times that NEA officers had spotted raw pork ribs in sealed bags in a bucket on the floor of its Bedok outlet in December. It was also penalised for an unclean dishwashing area spotted in January last year and a rusty fridge this February, he said. He said he did not know the meat had to be at least six inches off the floor, and has made platforms to comply with this at all outlets.

Mr Tan, 42, wrote in a Facebook post that "at no time was the food exposed or at risk of being exposed to the floor". He added that the ribs weighed over 30kg and were hard to thaw on a table, but he never intended to violate guidelines. The outlet will reopen on June 13.

Apologising to customers, he said some of the staff will be out of work for the two weeks and he expects losses of between $20,000 and $30,000. They would take the chance to do a thorough clean-up.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2017, with the headline 'Bak kut teh outlet suspended for 2 weeks'. Print Edition | Subscribe