Mice detected at popular Haidilao hotpot restaurants in undercover sting

Two Beijing branches of popular hotpot restaurant Haidilao were exposed for mice infestation and other sanitation problems, the Legal Evening News reported.

Two Beijing branches of popular hotpot restaurant Haidilao were exposed for mice infestation and other sanitation problems, the Legal Evening News reported after a secret investigation of almost four months.

Haidilao acknowledged the problem in an official announcement today and made an apology to the public. “We felt deep guilt and remorse after seeing the pictures provided by the media,” the announcement said. “We appreciated the media and our customers for helping us detect the loophole.”

They said in the announcement that they would assume both economic and legal responsibility. They have already ordered all outlets to undergo rectification and the plan would be announced to the public. They were confident they could completely eradicate these problems and invited the public to monitor their practices.

A reporter from the newspaper who was working in the restaurant undercover found a mouse in the kitchen at Haidilao’s Jinsong outlet on their first day at work this May. 

A picture taken by an undercover reporter shows a mouse in the kitchen at Haidilao's Jingsong outlet in Beijing at 3:26am on May 29, 2017.

Traces of mice were found in the restaurant’s ingredients room, serving room and dishwashing room in the following days. Some mice even climbed into pantries loaded with food. Mice appeared again after one pest control operation during the reporter’s investigation, which lasted almost two months.

The reporter also found that brooms and dustpans that were previously used to clean floors, walls and sewers would later be used to clear dish-washing machines and cabinets. The dustpans and duster cloths would be put into a large sink all together after clear-up. The brooms were drained over the conveyor belt of dish-washing machines, the interiors of which were soaked with oil stains and rotten food scraps.

A dustpan is being washed in a washing sink which is supposed to only be used for dishes and bowls. The picture was taken by an undercover reporter at 5:31am on May 26, 2017.

Dishes are soaked in a washing sink full of oil gunk and food residues, in a picture taken at 4:20am on June 18, 2017.

Another reporter investigating the restaurant’s Taiyanggong outlet in July found that staff in the ingredients room dredged the sewer with small strainers from the hot pots the customers just ate from.

A staff member uses a strainer to dredge the sewer.

Haidilao, known for its good service and food, is one of the most popular hotpot chains in China and boasts hundreds of restaurants nationwide.

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