A nonya kueh stall at the popular Kim San Leng Food Centre in Bishan Street 13 has been suspended for two weeks because of a rodent infestation.
The stall had accumulated 12 demerit points over the last 12 months under the Points Demerit System, stated a suspension notice yesterday on the National Environment Agency's (NEA) website.
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 more than 20 years, will be suspended from today until Nov 3.
This is the third time this year that Kim San Leng has had hygiene issues that led to a suspension. The entire coffee shop was suspended for a day on Jan 20 because of a rodent infestation, while its zi char stall was suspended for two weeks from July 25 to Aug 7 because of a cockroach infestation.
When The Straits Times visited the hawker centre yesterday, 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 the stallholders try to deter the rodents by setting up traps every month.
A customer at the food centre, 62-year-old housewife Joyce Yap, said: "Of course, I won't eat from that stall. It is dirty and not really hygienic."
Another diner, a 47-year-old civil servant who gave his name only as Mr E. S. Ang, 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 is a problem."
A licensee who accumulates 12 or more demerit points over a 12-month period can have the licence suspended for two or four weeks. Depending on past records, the licence can also be cancelled.
Employees handling food at 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 stated.
It said anyone who comes across poor hygiene practices at eateries should not eat there, but instead call the 24-hour NEA contact centre on 1800-225-5632, with details for the agency's investigations.