SINGAPORE - A nonya kueh stall at the popular Kim San Leng Food Centre in Bishan Street 13 has been suspended for two weeks due to a rodent infestation.
The stall had accumulated 12 demerit points over the last 12 months under the Points Demerit System, according to a suspension notice on the National Environment Agency's (NEA) website on Friday (Oct 20).
It was docked six demerit points for failing to keep its premises free of rodents, and another six points for failing to register an assistant. It was also fined $800.
The stall, which has been around for over 20 years, will be suspended from Saturday (Oct 21) till Nov 3.
This is the third time this year that Kim San Leng has been involved in suspension due to hygiene issues.
The entire coffee shop was suspended for a day on Jan 20 due to rodent infestation, while its zi char stall was suspended from two weeks from July 25 to Aug 7 due to cockroach infestation.
When The Straits Times visited the hawker centre on Friday, it was business as usual at the affected nonya kueh stall.
The coffee shop's boss, Mr Hoon Thing Leong, 68, told ST that the situation is beyond their control as the rodents come from a grass patch nearby, and that the authorities need to clear the pests there.
He added that they try to deter rodents by setting up traps every month.
A customer at the hawker centre, 62-year-old housewife Joyce Yap, said: "Of course I won't eat from that stall. It's dirty and not really hygienic."
Another diner, a 47-year-old civil servant who gave his name only as Mr Ang E. S., said: "I know there are rats all over the place. As long as the rats are not in contact with the food, I don't see why there's a problem."
A licensee who accumulates 12 or more demerit points over a 12-month period can have the licence suspended for either two or four weeks. Depending on past records, it can also be cancelled.
Employees handling food in the suspended premises would also have to attend and pass the Basic Food Hygiene Course again, before they can get back to work.
"NEA takes a serious view of these offences and would like to remind food operators to observe good food and personal hygiene practices at all times, and to engage only registered food handlers. NEA will not hesitate to take firm action against anyone found to be in violation of the Environmental Public Health Act," the suspension notice said.
Anyone who comes across poor hygiene practices at eateries should not eat there, but instead should call the 24-hour NEA contact centre at 1800-2255632 with details for the agency to follow up upon.