Ms Lee, a 30-year-old university graduate, visited Ha-Jun Korean, a Korean restaurant on the fourth floor of Clementi Mall, at 3 pm on 26 May 2023
She ordered a personal serving of their Korean Army Stew, expecting a satisfying meal.
However, her dining experience took a horrifying turn when she made a disturbing discovery in her food.
As Ms Lee was enjoying her meal, she suddenly bit into something unfamiliar in her mouth.
To her absolute disgust, as she carefully scooped out the meat in the Army Stew and spat out the beef slice she had bitten into, she discovered a cockroach entangled among the beef slices.
Lost Her Appetite After Discovering Cockroaches in Stew
According to Ms Lee, she was in the middle of her meal before biting into an unusual texture and decided to investigate further by scooping out the meat in her meal.
Specifically, she observed that the sliced beef in the stew had a texture that closely resembled “hair”.
It was a deeply unpleasant experience for Ms Lee, who shared that she had nearly consumed the meat before realising it was a cockroach that contributed to the “hairy” texture.
The shock and disgust left her appetite completely spoiled.
Unfortunately, after registering a complaint about the presence of the cockroach to the restaurant staff, Ms Lee was met with a surprising lack of concern.
The staff, seemingly indifferent to the hygiene issue, nonchalantly offered her a refund of $10 for the meal.
This response disappointed Ms Lee, who noted the staff’s indifference and failure to apologise immediately.
Consequently, despite consuming only half of the Army Stew, Ms Lee declined the manager’s offer to prepare another bowl, as her appetite had been completely lost and her trust in the establishment shattered.
Disappointed With the Establishment’s Response To the Situation
Ms Lee also spoke with the manager, who assured her they would cover medical expenses if she fell ill from consuming the contaminated food.
However, when Ms Lee requested written proof of the incident, the restaurant refused, further exacerbating her dissatisfaction, leading her to leave the store.
Expressing her disappointment, Ms Lee revealed that she had been a regular customer at the restaurant due to its affordable prices.
Consequently, she never anticipated such a significant lapse in hygiene standards and was disappointed by their response to the situation.
As such, even though the manager claimed that regular cleaning and pest control was done in the establishment, Ms Lee stated that she could no longer trust the restaurant’s commitment to food safety and hygiene.
The Restaurant Manager Claims To Conduct Regular Removal Of Pests In the Store
The day after the incident, a reporter from Lianhe Zaobao visited the Korean eatery to investigate further.
The manager, Ms Chen, openly acknowledged the restaurant’s negligence in allowing a cockroach to be present in the army stew.
However, Ms Chen, 32, confirmed that they promptly refunded Ms Lee for her meal and expressed their willingness to cover any potential medical expenses she might incur.
Despite this, she mentioned they could not provide written proof of the incident.
Although she couldn’t offer written proof, Ms Chen explained that she had offered to provide Ms Lee with a record of the incident through WhatsApp.
Unfortunately, Ms Lee declined the offer and left the premises shortly after.
Furthermore, Ms Chen highlighted that their staff diligently cleans the premises before opening and after closing the store.
She also emphasised that they regularly implement pest removal measures to uphold a high standard of hygiene in the restaurant.
Lack of Hygiene Spotted in More Food & Beverage Establishments in Singapore
In a survey conducted by the Singapore Management University (SMU) in 2021, which involved more than 2,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents, it was discovered that satisfaction with the cleanliness of coffee shops, air-conditioned food courts, hawker centres, and wet markets dropped by 3.7% compared to 2019.
The occurrence of pests such as rats and cockroaches in local Food and Beverage (F&B) establishments has been a notable issue, as exemplified by a similar incident in January 2023 when a diner found half of a cockroach in his Tau Kwa at the Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Market.
While both the diner and Ms Lee did not fall ill from consuming the contaminated food, it is essential to note that food and water contaminated by rats and cockroaches have been associated with food poisoning and infectious diseases.
As a result, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has implemented stringent food safety regulations to address these concerns.
These regulations require food establishments to eliminate pests, maintain food hygiene, and prevent contamination of food and food contact surfaces by pests.
Moreover, stricter penalties have been introduced for vendors who fail to comply with food safety and hygiene regulations.
Under the Environment Public Health Regulations and the Sale of Food Act, repeat offenders can face fines of up to $20,000, imprisonment for three months, or both.
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