GEORGE TOWN, PENANG - HEALTH authorities brought a popular hotel in Bukit Mertajam to book for unhygienic conditions when traces of rats' dropping were found in its kitchen.
The three-star hotel was ordered to have its kitchen closed for two weeks as its staff did not have food preparation and handling certificates.
Four other hotels on the island, were also booked for flouting health regulations such as covering food with old newspapers, among others. Three of the four hotels had four-star ratings.
At one of the hotels, the kitchen was dirty and had broken ceiling tiles.
At another, its kitchen staff had not undergone training for food handling and preparation.
Most of the kitchen workers at these hotels had not had their typhoid shots as required by law.
North-east district senior health officer Dr T. Vasantha said the hotels were among 21 which had their kitchens checked during the day-long Op Dapur Hotel recently.
Some 100 health officers and employees of the various district health offices took part in the operation which was conducted simultaneously in all five districts of the state.
In tow were enforcement officers from both the Penang Island and Seberang Perai municipal councils.
Dr Vasantha said she was disappointed and shocked that some of the major hotels had ignored the health and safety regulations in their kitchens.
"This is a serious matter. They should not spare any effort to ensure their kitchens are always clean and safe."
She said repeat offenders faced the possibility of being charged under Section 11 of the Food Act, 1983. They face a maximum of five years' jail or a fine or both.
A total of 26 compounds, totalling RM2,780, were issued to the errant hotels.