Singapore-based food company Irvins Salted Egg is offering refunds for batches of its popular snack after a Bangkok customer found a dead lizard coated with salted egg in a half-eaten packet.
Irvins Salted Egg manufactures all its products in Singapore.
Ms Jane Holloway, 38, who lives in Bangkok, said in a Facebook post last Friday (Dec 28) that her mother and brother had eaten half the bag of Irvins Salted Egg Fish Skin before they discovered the dead reptile.
Describing it as "so disgusting", she wrote: "How can this happen? This gecko was probably deep fried with the salmon skin by the looks of it. Eeeewwww!"
Speaking to The Straits Times on Wednesday, Ms Holloway said that she bought the product in Bangkok in early November from international supermarket Villa Market at K Village in the Khlong Toei district.
Her Thai mother, who also lives in Bangkok, opened the packet last week to enjoy the snack with her Siem Reap-based brother, who was visiting them over the Christmas and New Year holidays. Her father is Australian.
Her brother had initially thought the dead lizard was a baby salmon fish head but noticed it before he ate it.
Ms Holloway, who works at the Thailand Institute of Justice, said that she has bought the snack several times for her family and her colleagues.
"It's also really expensive here at 700 baht (S$29) a packet," she said, adding that it was one of her favourite snacks.
On Wednesday, Irvins Salted Egg founder Irvin Gunawan said in a statement that the company is "shocked and devastated" to hear about the incident.
"We really want to sincerely apologise to the customer and everyone who is affected by this incident directly or indirectly. We take full responsibility for the goods that we sell and everything in it," he said.
He added that quality control is one of the most important aspects of the company and said that he has since personally contacted Ms Holloway about the incident and will also be keeping in touch with her.
He added that the case has also been reported to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and that the company will cooperate fully in its investigations.
"We promise to make the necessary changes in our production to ensure this will never happen again," he added, noting that the company will also investigate the matter further as it does not have a full explanation on how the dead lizard ended up in the snack.
In an e-mail response to Ms Holloway's brother seen by The Straits Times, Mr Gunawan had offered the family a refund for the snacks and the cost of any medical bills arising from the incident.
He also said the company had in December moved to a new production facility, where "our hygiene and checking procedures are much, much stricter".
The company's new production facility is in JTC Food Hub @ Senoko. It did not say where its previous facility was located, when asked.
While none of her family members have fallen ill from eating the snack so far, Ms Holloway said they are "definitely traumatised".
She added: "Mum says she feels like throwing up when she thinks about it."
In Wednesday's statement, Mr Gunawan said that customers with salted egg snacks expiring on Oct 16 this year should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to return the product and receive a refund.
Customers who are uncomfortable with eating any Irvins Salted Egg snack should do the same as well. All recalled products would be disposed of, he added.
ST has contacted AVA for more information.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.