–Restaurant had come under criticism for allegedly drying serving boards on bathroom floor
–Management labels reports ‘invalid’; assures high standards of hygiene at café
LAHORE: Soon after Punjab Food Authority (PFA) claimed to have “sealed Lahore’s Butlers Chocolate Café following the confirmation of unhygienic and disgusting practice of drying serving boards on the bathroom floor”, the restaurant informed Pakistan Today that the issue had been “sorted out and it was continuing to operate”.
On Monday, Pakistan Today had reported that a social media user, taking to Facebook to share his experience, had said that he visited Butlers Chocolate Café – a popular and rather posh restaurant – located on Lahore’s MM Alam Road on Wednesday (June 13).
“After ordering I sat there relaxed and happy enjoying the music. We enjoy such places without even bothering about quality because we put our faith in these so-called renowned restaurants. We tell ourselves that at least we can trust them,” Haider Bokhari had written in his social media post.
“My sandwiches were served on a wooden tray. I wanted to wash my hands before having my meal so I went to the washroom but a note saying the washroom was ‘out of order’ was posted on the door. Since I only had to wash my hands, I went in any way.”
“Once I entered the washroom, to my shock, was something disgusting. Wooden trays like the one my sandwich was served on were placed right next to the toilet for drying since there was not enough space in the kitchen,” he had said.
The pictures attached along with the post had received thousands of shares on Facebook and people had severely criticised the management of the restaurant for playing with the health of the customers who put their faith in them.
Following Pakistan Today’s report, PFA on Monday night said that an enquiry team of the authority had raided the restaurant after receiving several public complaints and upon confirmation of the practice had shut it down besides calling the owner in person to explain the franchise’s position.
However, soon after PFA’s statement started making rounds on social media, Butlers Chocolates – based in Ireland with services in over 40 countries – contacted this scribe and labeled the reports “invalid”.
“We have been astounded by the invalid reports that have been issued in the last 24 hours. In light of all of these accusations, Butlers Chocolate Cafés would like to acknowledge the concern of customers, to apologise for any distress caused, and to reassure them of the very high standards of hygiene and food safety operated within the Lahore Café,” wrote the café’s management in an email.
They said that the café was open for business as usual with the full approval of the PFA and an investigation had revealed that the “sensationalised” Facebook post was made by a customer “who had breached an out-of-use washroom that was being used to store non-food waste for disposal” as over the Eid holiday period, the normal waste collection service was not available.
While the Butlers Chocolates bosses in Ireland continued to state that PFA confirmed it carried out an audit of the café and “found everything to be in order, with the highest standards of hygiene and food safety in operation”, PFA’s declaration of sealing the restaurant have left people doubtful about its tall claims of maintaining food quality while taking a strict action against food business operators and eateries for violating food regulations.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, Butlers Chocolates Corporate Sales and Marketing Executive Laura Kilcoyne reiterated the restaurant’s standards of hygiene and said the food authority would soon remove the social media post as the restaurant’s representatives had met with the officials of the food watchdog and sorted the issue out.
Repeated attempts were made to contact PFA Director General (DG) Noorul Amin Mengal, but he was unavailable.