Shuttered stalls start afresh

By Matthew Loh and Osmond Chia

TWO food stalls in NTU that were suspended for pest infestation during the school break are now placing hygiene as their top priority.

Students living in the halls of residence nearby continue to patronize the Chinese cuisine stall at Canteen 13.

In mid-July, a Chinese food stall Tian Yi Dian Chinese Cuisine at Canteen 13 had its licence suspended for two weeks by the National Environmental Agency (NEA) for failing to keep its premises rodent-free and preparing food outside of the stall, said an NEA notice.

This caused the stall to accumulate 14 demerit points over 12 months, exceeding the maximum limit of 12 demerit points imposed by the NEA. The stall was also fined $1,000.

Thorough cleaning conducted

During their suspension, store owners did a “complete wipe down” of the area, including the walls and vents, said Canteen 13 manager Wang Qin.

Old kitchen equipment was also replaced and the stall has since purchased new kitchenware.

Employees now mop the kitchen floor several times each day, added Ms Wang. The canteen has also been equipped with mouse traps.

An international food stall BBQ Delights at the North Spine food court, which was also suspended in May, has been “undergoing regular hygiene checks” as well, said a spokesperson from the North Spine food court, who declined further comment.

The stall was suspended for two weeks and fined $800 after cockroaches and rodents were found on its premises.

Regaining trust

As part of NEA regulations, food handlers from the stalls were required to attend and pass the one-day basic food hygiene course again before resuming work.

Both stalls have since been back in business, but students said more should be done to regain customers’ trust. Many students suggested publicising the stalls’ efforts at cleaning up.

“The stall has already broken the customers’ trust. It is their responsibility to earn it back,” said Vernice Toh, 22. She has been a resident at Hall 13 for four years.

“They should make an effort to show students the changes that they have made with a sign, or by telling students,” the final-year Electrical and Electronic Engineering student added.

Erik Skoog, a final-year exchange student from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has patronised Canteen 13’s Tian Yi Dian more than thrice since he arrived in NTU in July. When told about the suspension, the 22-year-old Swede said the stall should be more accountable to its customers.

He said: “I feel that a public apology, like a sign at the store, would show that they are taking customers seriously.”

Lee Ming Da, a 23-year-old resident of Hall of Residence 13 who ate from the stall a few days before the suspension was announced, added that it should display a poster informing customers of the hygiene changes that have been made.

The Canteen 13 supervisor, who declined to be named, told the Nanyang Chronicle: “We recognise our faults and we are serious about changing.”

He welcomed customers to inspect the kitchen for themselves. He said: “You will find that our equipment is clean and tidy.”

“Authorities have come to check the stalls more than four or five times since the incident. They’ve seen the change,” he added.