UNAPPETISING:Visits to popular eating spots reveal unhygienic practices and dirty premises
A RECENT Streets check on food courts in the city shows cleanliness to be at unsatisfactory levels.
Despite the authorities' constant warnings, compounds and sealing of premises, a majority of the food courts visited showed that cleanliness was still lacking at food courts in Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Kuala Lumpur and Klang.
The worst discovery was a dead rat at a food court in SS24/8, Taman Megah, Petaling Jaya, during a late evening inspection. While most of the food kiosks looked clean, the surroundings, however, were poorly maintained.
The floor was littered with cigarette butts. The drains surrounding the food court emitted a foul stench while rats could be seen scurrying in the dark corners of the premises.
Waiters who served the drinks had unkempt hair and several cooks did not wear aprons.
The food court below Petaling Jaya City Council's car park in Lorong Sultan, was poorly ventilated. At lunch hour, cats roamed the food court while food sellers left used plates on the floor and stairways.
The SS2 food court in Petaling Jaya looked much cleaner now, compared to the filthy conditions several years ago. However, food items and eating utensils were still seen left lying on the floor. Food sellers handled food without aprons and caps. The food court is near a morning market and as such, waste is disposed nearby, attracting crows that pick on the leftovers.
"I come here often. I think there has been improvement on the way food is prepared. But the surrounding area needs to be tidied up," said patron Tan Chun Lynn.
At another well known food court in SS15, Subang Jaya, several food sellers did not observe cleanliness practices. A mixed rice stall operator had placed a large pot of curry without its lid on the floor.
Although the dining area was generally clean, several food preparation corners had dirty floors. Food handlers were also seen without their aprons and caps.
Raw seafood was also left in the open, when they should have been refrigerated to prevent food poisoning. Two years ago, the food court was sealed by the Subang Jaya Municipal Council due to poor cleanliness. Out of the 60 stalls in the food court, 16 scored poorly and given warnings while nine stalls were issued compounds during the council's inspection.
In Lucky Garden, Bangsar, the stalls' surroundings and how the dishes were washed were among the concerns raised by patrons.
The environment of a row of hawker stalls in Lorong Ara Kiri 3, was clearly dirty.
A couple, who declined to be named, said they had stopped patronising the food stalls because they were dirty.
"It has been a while since we visited the stall. Some food stall operators would leave the dirty dishes at the roadside or on the pavements. That puts us off, especially when the surroundings are dirty, too."
Patrons did not only have to endure the stench from nearby drains, they were exposed to carbon monoxide from the vehicles parked right in front of the stalls.
An illegal stall was operating inJalan Cenderai 1 and workers were seen cleaning food on the pavement.
The food stall, run by a foreigner who did not want to be identified said the previous stall owner, who was deeply in debt, did not not bother to keep the place clean and the workers properly attired.
"When we took over this stall, we refurbished it, changed the menu, and gave the cooks aprons which they have to wear at all times.
"By the end of this month, we will be getting new uniforms for the employees. So far, we have received a good response from the customers, especially the regulars," he said.
When asked how the customers could dine when the stench from the drains were so strong, he said as they offered good food at cheap prices, the customers did not mind so much the conditions.
"But at our stall, we make sure that the place is kept clean. I make sure my staff sweep the floor and wipe the tables once the customers are done eating," he said.
Meanwhile, in Little India, Jalan Tengku Kelana, Klang, the back alley drains at the back of the restaurants were generally clean.
Stray cats or dogs were not spotted roaming the back lanes.