A well-known, century-old Taipei shop that sells smoked shark meat has been cited for poor sanitation after the Taipei Department of Health yesterday conducted a surprise inspection and gave the shop three days to improve its food hygiene.
The Chinese-language Mirror Media weekly magazine reported that A Hua Smoked Shark Shop in the Dadaocheng (大稻埕) area had been preparing its food in unsanitary conditions and food samples sent for examination by the health department showed a bacterial count 22 times higher than the legal limit.
The report featured photographs secretly taken outside the shop’s kitchen that show the shop owner and workers wearing sandals and handling meat on a greasy and dirty floor.
It also reported that several mouse traps and cages were placed near the kitchen and showed a photograph with a rat stuck in a trap with the caption saying that the rat was still making noises when the photograph was taken.
The shop owner, surnamed Kuo (郭), said the store handles shark meat on cutting boards, not on the floor, and that the photograph of the rat could have been set up.
The examination of the shark meat could have been done days after it was purchased, Kuo said.
The shop owner said that the meat is cooked until it is well-done, but refused reporters access to the kitchen.
The health department said it found that the shop and its factory had many sanitation problems, including food being handled on the floor, unrefrigerated fresh ingredients and dirty floors and walls.
The shop has been asked to improve conditions before tomorrow, or it could face a fine of between NT$60,000 and NT$200 million (US$1,881 and US$6.27 million).
Department Food and Drugs Division Director Wang Ming-li (王明理) said the agency has also collected raw meat and processed meat samples for examination, adding that the results would be available in about 10 to 14 days.
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