The management of Okura Prestige Taipei, a five-star luxury hotel, yesterday apologized and offered to refund customers after a former employee accused the hotel of serving expired prawns and moldy taro at its buffet restaurant.
Accompanied by Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Wang Wei-chung (王威中), a former chef at the hotel, surnamed Lin (林), on Tuesday told a news conference about chefs at the restaurant being asked by their superiors to use ingredients that had gone bad or had expired.
Showing photographs and an online chat history between two chefs, Lin said the restaurant served expired prawns in September last year and tempura made of taro with the moldy parts peeled off the following month.
Wang said Lin received the photographs taken by coworkers in December last year and reported them to officials at the hotel, but management did not initiate a probe and forced Lin to resign last month.
After receiving a report from Wang, the Taipei Department of Health sent inspectors to the hotel’s restaurant and found six sanitary problems, including an unclean environment, food ingredients placed on the floor in the refrigerating room and cockroaches in the knife sterilizer cabinet.
Moreover, eight types of seafood ingredients did not have expiration labels, the department said, adding that the hotel, owned by a Tokyo-based brand, was given two days to make improvements or face a fine for violating the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法).
Okura Prestige Taipei general manager Hiroyuki Goto apologized to the public, saying they happened by accident, but the hotel would thoroughly examine the expiration dates of all batches of food ingredients that are sent to the restaurant, as well as enhance employee training to avoid such incidents.
The hotel also agreed to provide a full refund to customers who dined at the restaurant between Sept. 21 and Sept. 23 and between Oct. 12 and Oct. 15 last year.