We joke about the occasional stray hair, fly, ant, or god forbid, cockroach, in our food.
But when a live rat runs along a ceiling beam, loses their footing, and lands on your table?
It’s time to push away your tray and bid adieu to the hawker centre.
Possible Rat Infestation at Maxwell Food Centre
Just yesterday (12 June), a diner at Maxwell Food Centre told Shin Min Daily News that he caught a glimpse of two rats running along the ceiling beams.
Apparently, this has been a common issue for Maxwell Food Centre recently.
Besides one diner spotting and reporting the two rats nestled together, the Chinese newspaper reporters also spotted one in the corner of the ceiling beam when they visited the location.
It’s kind of understandable why Maxwell Food Centre’s ceiling beams seem like prime breeding grounds for the pests when you look at it.
It’s close to food and water sources, the beams are high enough that they’re out of reach and away from immediate danger. There’s tons of crawl space.
According to the hawkers, it isn’t rare to see at least three to four rats on a normal day.
In fact, back in September 2021, a live rat had dropped onto the table, and a cleaner was called in to take it away in a box.
Then a few months ago, the same thing happened again.
Life does not imitate Ratatouille, where rats are seen as cute cooking extraordinares and a mass of kitchen helpers.
That rat was incredibly unfortunate because it was trampled to death as it tried to scuttle away as pandemonium broke out among the diners.
Both pest and humans were equally frantic to get away from each other, and only one side survived.
Reportedly, the rat colony is rapidly growing in numbers, and it is causing worries to rise among hawkers.
After all, hygiene is of utmost importance in the F&B industry—their livelihoods literally depend on their certification—and this would undoubtedly affect businesses.
The Cause of the Rat Infestation
Upon reaching out to Maxwell Food Centre, Mr Huang, their assigned spokesperson, said that the hawker centre had been experiencing rat problems ever since a construction site was set up nearby.
He revealed that the National Environmental Agency (NEA) has been alerted about the issue, and that they have a monthly arrangement with a pest management company to deal with said pests.
The NEA doesn’t remain idle either; the government agency carries out routine inspections and cleanings, of which includes dealing with rat hidey-holes in trees.
NEA has also launched Ratsense a few months ago, a rat surveillance system that is meant to help with the monitoring and prevention of rat infestations, though it’s still in the testing phase before it’s widely employed.
If they need a prime ground for testing how effective the new technology is, well, they’ve found one, ripe for cleansing.
Moreover, the Singapore Food Agency officers consistently remind hawkers to store their ingredients properly and to maintain good hygiene standards.
With the collective efforts from various stakeholders, Mr Huang noted that the rat situation has improved.
It might take a while more for them to completely stomp out the problem, but it’s progress at least.
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