House Brand basmati rice pulled from Sheng Siong, Cold Storage after dead rat found in bag

Mr Vegnesh Jodimani posted a photo of the rodent on Facebook, which has since been shared more than 3,100 times. PHOTOS: FACEBOOK/VEGNESH JODIMANI

SINGAPORE - Supermarket chain Sheng Siong has removed a brand of basmati rice products from shelves after a dead rat was found by a customer in a bag of the rice.

Other bags of the rice from the same batch are also being recalled from other stores, including Cold Storage and some provision shops, said Mr Jayakumar, 64, the director of K N P Trading, which supplies the House Brand basmati rice here.

The recall is expected to be completed by the end of the week, he told The Straits Times. Other unaffected batches of the rice are still being supplied.

Saturday's complaint was the only one the company has received so far about the affected batch, said Mr Jayakumar, who goes by only one name.

The customer, Mr Vegnesh Jodimani, said on Facebook that he bought the 5kg bag of rice from a Sheng Siong outlet in Bedok Reservoir Road last Saturday (March 2) and was shocked to find a rat inside.

He posted a photo of the rodent on Facebook on the same day and said that he reported the matter to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and Sheng Siong.

His Facebook post has since been shared more than 3,100 times.

He told ST that after purchasing the rice, his daughter had cut open the bag to pour it into a plastic bucket.

She noticed a strange smell after it was open, and it got stronger as she poured the rice out, said Mr Vegnesh, 42, who works as an inspector in the aviation industry.

His daughter and wife then called him over to take a look at what they had thought was a decomposed banana that had turned black.

"Immediately, from the smell, I knew it was a dead thing," said Mr Vegnesh.

Since the incident, Mr Vegnesh said he and his family have not eaten rice.

"My three children are traumatised by the incident. They have a temporary phobia of eating rice," he said.

He added that he did not know his post would go viral, and had posted about it only to warn others to be wary when buying food.

Mr Jayakumar said that the product is packed by K N P Trading's supplier in India, and the company has since notified the supplier to conduct investigations and submit its findings.

He added: "We strive to maintain high quality and safety standards for the food products we supply. This commitment has been our hallmark for the last 60 years."

Mr Jayakumar pledged to bounce back from the episode and restore the trust consumers have in the brand, and apologised for the "isolated incident".

A Sheng Siong spokesman said on Monday that the store was informed by the customer of the incident last Saturday.

She said that all the supermarket chain's stores immediately removed the House Brand basmati rice products after the customer's notification. The supplier was also informed about the matter.

Sheng Siong said that it has refunded the customer, and would work closely with the AVA.

"The supplier is currently investigating the matter," the supermarket's spokesman added.

The AVA said it has received feedback on the incident and is investigating.

A spokesman said on Sunday: "The (food) industry is reminded to exercise diligence in ensuring the food they supply is fit for consumption."

Consumers were also reminded to be aware of good practices in food safety, which can be found on the AVA's website, and apply them in daily life.

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