SINGAPORE - Dinner took a stomach-churning turn for Mr Quek Yong Pheng, 38, on Monday (Sept 5) evening, when he and his group of friends found a dead rat in their soup.
However, Mr Raymond Tan, 53, the owner of Sin Yew Huat Eating House in Jalan Besar, said the coffee shop premises are kept clean, and has denied that there are rats there.
Mr Quek, who runs his own auto shop, told The Straits Times that each of the eight diners ordered a bowl of soup at the popular Kong Kee Mutton Soup in Jalan Besar.
One of his friends was very full, and fished out what was thought to be a piece of mutton, to put in another friend’s bowl. "It (the rodent) was right on top and we saw that it was a rat," he said, adding: "My friend went to the road side and started to vomit."
The owner came over, apologised and gave them a refund on their dinner, which amounted to around $42.
Mr Quek said that she told the group the rodent might have fallen from the rafters into the pot of soup in the kitchen.
He said that although he made a public Facebook post about the incident, he did not think it was necessary to alert the National Environment Agency (NEA) because no one in the group had suffered any lasting ill effects from the extra ingredient in their soup.
"But my friends told me to report it to the NEA," Mr Quek said, "so that at least the rats can be cleared away from the stall before any other customers consume it."
He added that he saw the stall owner continue to dish out soup to customers at other tables.
When The Straits Times visited the stall on Tuesday afternoon, there were no rats in sight. The stall owner, a woman who did not want to be named, said that they practise high standards of hygiene.
"We clean the place three times every day, when we open, at midday, and at closing time. I never see any rats around, so I also don't know where it came from."
She explained that when she cooks her mutton soup, the ingredients are placed aside in bowls, with the large pot of soup beside it.
"If there's a rat, I would have noticed it while preparing the ingredients," she said. She was alerted to the rat after a commotion at the table.
Miss Zhang Ying Hong, 40, a member of staff from the stall, said: "My boss came over and said sorry and gave them a refund."
Mr Tan said NEA officers had come down to inspect the premises earlier. "They told me to engage pest control, and also to head down to their office to get my statement taken."
He added that the stall owners and staff there keep the place clean, and the stalls and toilets are washed often. The mutton soup stall has been running for 20 years, and never had a record of rats, according to Mr Tan, who has been in the coffee shop business all his life, since his father first opened a coffee shop in the 1950s.
Responding to queries from The Straits Times, the NEA said it is aware of the incident and is investigating, and will take the necessary enforcement action against any parties found responsible for rat infestation.