GEORGE TOWN - Popular eateries are spending a small fortune every month on pest control to ensure the hygiene level is high and to keep rats at bay.
Nasi Kandar Pelita Sdn Bhd Penang general manager Seeni Abuthahir Mohamed said the management spent about RM1,000 (S$408) monthly on pest control at all its outlets on the island.
"The pest control activities are done twice monthly. These keep away pests such as rats, cockroaches and flies," the 42-year-old said at the restaurant in Sungai Dua here yesterday.
He said the management also ensured that the staff cleaned the kitchen, bathroom and mopped the floor every hour.
Another restaurant, Take 2, also maintains a high level of cleanliness at its premises.
Its co-owner, who only wanted to be known as Mrs Tan, 47, said the dining area and kitchen would be cleaned after meal times.
She said although she had not come across any rats in her outlet, she took precautionary measures by placing rat traps at night.
It was reported yesterday that the population of rats in the country has grown into a serious problem in cities and residential areas.
At other eateries, customers still flock to these places despite rodents being a common sight.
"The food here is excellent," said a customer who wanted to be known as Ramlan at an A-list nasi kandar restaurant.
He said although there are rodents wandering around, this would not stop him from coming to get his favourite food.
"As long as my plate is clean and the food does not cause me food poisoning, I will continue to patronise this place," he said.
Another customer, Siti Rukiah Abdullah, 39, agrees, dismissing the rabbit-sized rats running around the eatery as simply a myth.
"It could be true in the 1980s but I believe the shop owners have carried out ways to upgrade the hygiene and sanitation here," the housewife, who regularly comes to the eatery with her family, said.
A brief check around the kitchen revealed that there were no rats visible as food waste and rubbish had been collected in a plastic bag and tucked away at a separate place.
Among the places believed to be highly infested with rats are commercial areas, restaurants and coffeeshops, and markets in inner George Town, Jelutong, Air Itam, Bandar Baru Air Itam and Pulau Tikus.
Also not spared are the residential areas in Taman Free School, Padang Tembak, Sungai Dua, Farlim, Bukit Gedung (Bayan Baru), Tanjong Tokong UDA, Kampung Melayu and Batu Lanchang.
In a report on March 18, 2011, the Penang Municipal Council said 4,678 rats were killed in 2009 and 17,013 in 2010.
Last year, 16,359 rats were killed while 15,959 were destroyed in 2011.
From January to April this year, the council has exterminated 6,237 rats.