When we dine out, we implicitly trust that our food is prepared in sanitary surroundings.
That’s why it can be shocking to notice rats scurrying around the very establishment where we’re eating at.
So imagine the disgust felt by a woman when she saw as many as four rats scurrying around a Boon Lay kopitiam stall when she was dining there.
To make matters worse, one of the rats even crawled over her husband’s feet.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday (5 Jul), netizen Jamie Lee said she caught the repulsive sight while eating at Boon Lay shopping centre.
Apparently, she was eating halfway when rats ran out of one of the kopitiam stalls, which sells Thai mookata and porridge.
Sickeningly, they were even so bold as to run in her direction, prompting her to ask,
Would anyone go to a place full of rats running up n down the shop?
Later, Ms Lee, a 25-year-old pregnant housewife, told Lianhe Zaobao that she was with her husband and friends at the Bgain 221 Eating House in Boon Lay shopping centre on 3 Jul.
Suddenly, her husband felt movement at his feet and looked to see a rat running into the Thai mookata stall.
She then saw as many as four rats scurrying across the water pipes of the stall.
Videos she shared on Facebook showed the rats brazenly scampering in single file across the horizontal pipes and climbing up the vertical ones.
She was even more surprised to find out from her friends that this was a common sight.
Ms Lee said she’d previously eaten at the stall in December last year and didn’t see any rats.
In January, she patronised them again and did see a rat.
However, she didn’t expect that situation to worsen, with more rats seen this time round.
The sighting caused her group to leave and eat elsewhere, she told AsiaOne, adding,
They were bigger than my palm. It was horrible.
When Zaobao reporters turned up at the Thai mookata stall on two separate occasions, they declined to comment.
However, a spokesperson for the stall told AsiaOne that they’re aware of the case and looking into it.
They also said the rats may have been from other shops, pointing out that the rats entered when the stall was closed.
The spokesperson felt that the rat problem was a coffee shop issue and not confined to their stall.
However, employees of the cai png stall told Zaobao that they’d spotted rats out and about twice, even though the stall had been open for less than a month.
They said that most of the rats were seen outside their stall, near the trash.
Another stallholder, who sells bin chang kueh, said rat infestation was a long-standing problem at the kopitiam.
Although the premises are cleaned regularly — once a week, including the spraying of disinfectant — the appearance of rats may be inevitable, she said.
Stallholders can only store their food properly, or they will be bitten by the pests, which has happened to her before.
The kopitiam’s owner has apparently notified stallholders that a thorough cleaning operation will be carried out next week, hoping to stop the infestation once and for all.
In fact, the kopitiam’s owner told 8World News that rat infestation is a problem in the entire shopping centre.
Speaking to the broadcaster on Friday (8 Jul), he said the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) had already visited the stall that was the subject of the complaint.
While further investigation is still needed, he lamented that rodents are the biggest problem for kopitiams,
They have legs, they don’t live in the kopitiam, they run to wherever there’s food.
He revealed that pest control work is conducted at the kopitiam every month, and the frequency will be increased to twice a month owing to the recent increase in rat sightings.
Next Friday (15 Jul), they will launch a major rat-catching operation. The premises will be closed with lights turned off after 11pm to lure them out.
West Coast Town Council has also taken action by increasing the frequency of their anti-rodent work to once a week.
This is in response to feedback from the public and business owners.
Previously, this was carried out once in two weeks since the beginning of the year.
The most recent operation was on Wednesday (6 Jul).
The town council assured the public that they would work with businesses and the relevant agencies to eradicate the rat problem.
For rats to be roaming around where people are eating is concerning for obvious reasons.
While cleaning and pest control efforts are being intensified, perhaps more effective methods can be used to ensure that food hygiene levels are maintained.
If not, this could escalate into a serious public health issue.
Hopefully, the pest control efforts will pay off, and the situation will improve as soon as possible.
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