JOHOR BARU - Rat infestations are growing. Last year, the city council here (MBJB) killed 2,715 rats in total; it destroyed 2,100 the previous year.
These rodents were caught at dirty food premises.
MBJB public relations officer Aziz Ithnin said the council's Vector Disease Carrier Control Unit regularly conducts such operations, especially at areas with large infestations.
"We conduct stringent checks at eateries and hotels here to ensure that they follow the rules and regulations on cleanliness," he said.
The MBJB comes down hard on any food operators who fail to adhere to the rules.
"We have cleanliness courses for food operators and they have no excuse not to be hygienic," Aziz said.
Last year, it inspected 1,150 food outlets and these were graded from an "A" to a "D" for cleanliness. More than 110 got an "A" while one received a "D".
Food outlets that fail the inspection are ordered to close down.
"The MBJB also carries out similar programmes, including gotong-royong activities in housing areas, to inform the public on the importance of keeping their areas clean because rodents could bring fatal diseases to humans," he said.
In Petaling Jaya, rats are a serious problem at wet markets and food courts.
More than 100 rats in total are trapped every month on average, according to Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) public relations officer Zainun Zakaria. But last January, 251 rodents were caught and in February it was 260.
Complaints about the increasing presence of rodents at these places are on the rise too, according to the MBPJ.
"Most of the drains are choked with food waste and other indiscriminately dumped items," Zainun said.
"The rodents are attracted to the unhygienic conditions."
"We are doing our best and those operating food stalls must also do their part to ensure clean surroundings," she added.