Penang’s Health Department investigators were shocked at what they found after raiding a bean curd skin (foo chuk) factory, yesterday (18 Feb).
Investigators said that the place was not only swarming with flies, but the carcass of a dead kitten was also found lying mere metres from where workers prepared foo chuk for drying. Apparently, the factory has been operating illegally at Sungai Jawi in Penang for around four decades.
When Penang Health Department environmental health, food safety and quality officer Mohd Wazir Khalid asked a worker why the carcass was left unattended, she answered that “the kitten just died there” and they were “too busy to remove it”.
Wazir noted that the swarm of flies, on the other hand, is due to chicken farms being nearby.
“They use wooden planks as dividers in the processing trays for soy milk, and this can lead to bacterial growth and the presence of wood splinters in the foo chuk. The concrete pens from the former pigsty operation here can still be found within the factory, and cats and dogs wandering around the food processing areas can cause animal hair and more bacteria to contaminate the foo chuk,” Wazir added.
He then explained that the foo chuk are packed under different brands as they are produced by different family members, each managing their own production lines on the factory grounds.
For failing to ensure proper hygiene, the factory was slapped with five compounds totalling RM8,500, and ordered to clean up. Follow-up checks will be conducted within three weeks, and if conditions do not improve, the health department will issue the factory a notice to close under Section 11 of Food Act 1983.
Wazir urges the local authority to take stern action against this illegal operation and mention that their biggest concern is the fact that this factory has been operating for such a long time.