SINGAPORE: The owners of the Bahn Mi Saigon eatery at Ang Mo Kio have lamented that their sales have plunged by 50 to 70 per cent after a customer posted a TikTok video of a rat scurrying around in the vicinity of their premises, last week. The management added that it has had to sack three employees as it is now unable to pay their salaries.
Amid ongoing investigations by the Singapore Food Agency, the owners of the shop have also decided to remove their dining in facilities and will only offer takeaway for all customers.
Their decision comes days after the TikTok video went viral, igniting hygiene concerns on social media. TikTok user Melvin, who took the video, claimed that he visited the store on Friday night (May 19) around 8:45 pm when he heard rustling sounds coming from plastic packaging on a nearby shelf.
To his horror, he discovered a medium-sized rat freely moving amidst the instant noodle packets. @vinnography said, “At least one package of instant noodles was bitten open.”
He alleged that he informed the shop’s clerk about the presence of the rat but the clerk allegedly assured him he would address the issue later. However, even after 15 minutes, no action was taken, according to the TikTok user, prompting him to leave the shop.
While Bahn Mi Saigon’s owners apologised for the issue the very next day, they have since clarified that the rat was spotted outside their store – not within the shop where the food is prepared.
In a post published on Tuesday (May 23), the shop owners said that they have reviewed CCTV footage and only Melvin appeared to notice the rodent and that their other customers were behaving normally.
They confirmed that while Melvin did inform a clerk about the issue, the clerk was busy fulfilling the orders and likely did not understand the gravity of the situation as he does not understand English or Mandarin very well.
The owners added that Melvin did not show a picture or video to the clerk, which could have “helped for communication and understanding, but Melvin and his companion have just left and post tiktok already”.
The shop owners said that the staff took action six minutes after they were alerted, not 15 minutes as Melvin suggested. They also asked customers with feedback to write in to their email instead of posting videos online so that the shop can conduct proper investigations into any issues. They said:
“We would not fault the staff for not reacting to Melvin’s expectations at this moment because if it was portrayed to be serious at that moment in time, the other customers could also inform our staff which will help with a sense of urgency. However, only Melvin was distancing and the staff was also not informed at this point in time.
“Melvin then informed our staff (four minutes later) but the staff, while concentrating on fulfilling orders accurately and swiftly as humanly possible and calculating the day expenses, did not fully understand Melvin’s portrayal of intention as english (or mandarin) are not the particular staff fully understood language.”
Bahn Mi Saigon said that it has resumed operations after sanitising the area multiple times and after contracting two pest control companies.
They said that although they have lost more than half their business and had to let go of three staff, they have to try and cover their losses as best as possible “so as to allow our remaining staff to be able to earn a living with some being so far in a foreign land with families depending on us and on our staff”.
Despite the shop owners’ explanations, it seems that some still have doubts. Responding to concerns put forth by a Facebook user on Wednesday (24 May), the shop owners said: “Dear Sir/Mdm, the pest was at the outdoor area, near the grass patches, and not inside the shop area and not in preparation area.
“The rackings outside have also been removed and the whole instant noodles packs have been disposed of. Our preparation also uses another separate carton of noodles kept and stored indoors. We are strictly takeaway only now.”
The Singapore Food Agency, meanwhile, has confirmed that it has launched a probe and said that it will not hesitate to take enforcement action if it needs to.
Viral video of rat at Bahn Mi shop in AMK sparks hygiene concerns
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