SINGAPORE: Popular hotpot restaurant chain HaiDiLao said on Wednesday (Feb 14) it has sent its staff for retraining after its Clarke Quay outlet was suspended for two weeks over hygiene lapses.
The National Environment Agency suspended the outlet at 3D River Valley Road from last Saturday (Feb 10) until Feb 23. The suspension notice said that HaiDiLao staff at Clarke Quay had handled food with bare hands and sold food which was unclean.
HaiDiLao was also fined S$800 for the offences.
Responding to queries from Channel NewsAsia, HaiDiLao said the offences occurred between August and September last year.
On Aug 8, 2017, an NEA inspector saw a worker at the Clarke Quay branch slicing watermelon without gloves on. The worker was fined S$300 for violating the Environmental Public Health Act.
On Sep 20, 2017, NEA inspectors tested samples of side dishes and sauces at the self-service counter and found that one sample of beancurd did not comply with NEA's standards.
HaiDiLao said it has retrained its staff in food preparation procedures. It has also introduced a new food safety management system to prevent similar lapses from happening again, the chain said.
"The company also sought assistance from the National Environment Agency for comments and guidance to improve our food safety management system," said HaiDiLao.
"HaiDiLao promises that food safety and food quality remains a priority in all the stores globally."
The company's global headquarters will also make "stringent checks" on its Singapore branches, it added.
HaiDiLao also said it hired two local food safety inspection agencies last year as independent third parties to inspect its operations at various branches. The agencies conduct random checks on kitchen equipment, food preparation methods and hygiene standards, it said.
"The company has reflected upon deficiences in management of the Clarke Quay branch that the inspections have revealed ... The office has paid great attention to the incidents, taking them very seriously," HaiDiLao said after further queries from Channel NewsAsia.
"In order to learn the right lessons, all relevant processes have been scrutinized."
RENOVATION WORKS AT OUTLET WERE PLANNED: HAIDILAO
In response to questions about the Clarke Quay outlet's 50-day closure for renovation – which began last Saturday, the same day as the NEA suspension notice – the company said the renovation works were planned before the suspension.
HaiDiLao said later on Wednesday that because of the suspension, they "will be taking this time to renovate the five-year-old branch, as well as to enhance its facilities and improve its service standards".
Renovation works are expected to be completed by late March, and the outlet is expected to reopen in early April, HaiDiLao said.
Staff from the branch who handled food will continue to get paid while they attend the Basic Food Hygiene Course again as required by NEA. HaiDiLao will arrange for the staff to work in another branch of their choice once they pass the course.
About 50 customers who had made reservations at the Clarke Quay outlet for the Chinese New Year period will get a discount on their next visit, HaiDiLao said.
These customers can choose to dine at another of the chain's outlets and they will receive a 30 per cent discount. They will also be served by the outlets' managers, it added.
"We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers," HaiDiLao said.