SINGAPORE: Proofer Bakery, a popular bakery chain with 17 outlets across Singapore, was fined S$3,000 on Wednesday for failing to maintain cleanliness at its central kitchen after an inspection conducted by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) revealed several hygiene violations, including the presence of dead mice.

A representative for Proofer Bakery admitted to one count under the Sale of Food (Non-Retail Food Business) Regulations, specifically for failing to keep a licensed food establishment clean and properly maintained.

The SFA had initially discovered a significant pest infestation during an Oct 26, 2021, inspection at Proofer’s central kitchen at KA Foodlink, 171 Kampong Ampat, in the MacPherson area. Live cockroaches, rodent activity, and dead rodents were found in food preparation areas and two food delivery trucks.

The charge sheet detailed multiple cleanliness and maintenance issues, including a dirty floor and door in the dough processing room, damaged and dirty walls in the icing room, and a dirty floor in the raw materials store with trolleys containing baked food remnants. The kitchen’s air duct was found to be dusty, and walls and ceiling boards were stained with grime.

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The SFA prosecutor sought a fine of S$3,000, emphasizing the seriousness of the breaches, which posed a risk to food safety and public health. Previous cases with fines ranging from S$2,500 to over S$4,000 were cited as a precedent.

In mitigation, Proofer’s representative attributed the issues to oversight, bad management, and poor housekeeping. The representative assured that corrective measures had been taken, including the closure of the central kitchen and the implementation of cleaning schedules and other requirements in all Proofer Bakery shops.

The SFA suspended Proofer Bakery’s food business operations from October 2021 to January 2022 and ordered the rectification of lapses and improvements in food safety practices and premises cleanliness. A precautionary recall of food products from the company’s 16 retail outlets was also directed on October 26, 2021, with the suspension lifted on January 26, 2022.

The maximum fine for failing to maintain a licensed establishment is S$5,000, with a potential further fine of up to S$100 per day for each day the offence continues after conviction.