Hotpot chain Haidilao caught flouting hygiene regulations in Singapore outlet

Customers dine at a Haidilao hotpot restaurant, operated by Sichuan Haidilao Catering Co., in Shanghai, China, on Sunday, July 9, 2017. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - Popular hotpot chain Haidilao has been caught flouting hygiene regulations at one of its outlets in Singapore.

On Monday night (Aug 28), the National Environment Agency said that its officers had conducted routine inspections in early August.

"Following one of our recent routine inspections earlier this month, NEA officers found a food handler to be handling food with bare hands..." said a spokesman for the agency. "A summons will be issued to the operator for the lapse."

Those guilty of hygiene lapses can be fined up to $2,000, and may have their licences suspended.

A branch manager at Haidilao Singapore, Jacky Fang, confirmed the summons for the incident that took place before the chain's China outlets came under scrutiny: "This incident took place on the 8th of August 2017. However, we have taken necessary action with the staff. We have also re-emphasised the importance of ethical food hygiene handling to everyone."

The revelation of the violation comes amid a sanitation scandal at two of its Beijing outlets. Earlier on Monday, Haidilao said that it is doubling the frequency of its pest control checks at its Singapore outlets following the scandal.

From once a month, these checks will now be conducted twice, Mr Fang told The Straits Times.

On Sunday (Aug 27), Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the Chinese-headquartered eatery will have its outlets inspected by food safety authorities after two branches were found to be operating in unhygienic conditions.

Video footage taken by hidden cameras showed a rat-infested kitchen, a dishwasher caked with oily food residue and a worker attempting to fix a sewage clog with a food ladle.

Mr Fang apologised for the hygiene lapses in Beijing and said on Monday (Aug 28) that customers at its four outlets here can be "assured that we are up to (hygiene) standards, and safe for your patronage".

Comprehensive checks have been conducted for all outlets here since the Beijing incident, said Mr Fang, and additional hygiene measures have been implemented.

"During operations, the media and the public are more than welcome to visit our restaurant or kitchen. Feel free to take photos and inspect (our cleanliness standards) individually," he added.

"We are open to any other recommendations or advice (for improving hygiene)," said Mr Fang.

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