Hong Kong bakery fined HK$9,000 after customer bites into pork bun only to find lizard inside

  • Woman bought food item at Maxim’s Cakes branch in Tuen Mun but only discovered gecko when she went to eat it two days later
  • Catering firm has been fined 55 times so far over similar incidents with magistrate calling case ‘a bit outrageous’

AdChoiceTV News — Hong Kong catering giant Maxim’s was fined HK$9,000 (US$1,160) on Friday after a woman took a bite out of a bun only to find a small lizard among the filling.

The questionable food item was sold at Maxim’s Cakes bakery at Butterfly Plaza in Tuen Mun to Cheung Mei-yee, who kept it in a bag at her home.

She ate it two days later, but on her second bite found a 4cm (1.6-inch) gecko lying amid a mixture of pork floss, seaweed and Japanese rice cake.

She called the shop owner to complain and also filed a formal complaint at the local government offices.

Maxim’s Caterers, which runs the shop, pleaded guilty at Tuen Mun Court to a count of offering food “not of the quality demanded by the purchaser” in relation to the incident on October 2, 2019, under an ordinance governing public hygiene.

Maxim’s Group took a revenue hit during the anti-government protests in 2019. Photo: Felix Wong

The company has 55 similar convictions in the past, with the latest penalty coming in December 2019, when the CEO of Robert Chan International Ltd file a formal complaint about having a cockroach on a cake when he ate it. Maxim’s was fined HK$7,500 for that.

A lawyer for Maxim’s said the bakery in question had conducted thorough sanitation on its premises as well as increasing monitoring of raw ingredients in the baking room.

Magistrate Frances Leung Nga-yan found the case “a bit outrageous”, saying even if the shop had good hygiene, it should have taken proactive steps to ensure no animals could get into the products they sold. She ordered the company to pay the HK$9,000 fine in two weeks.

Maxim’s Caterers owns more than 1,300 outlets in Hong Kong and other parts of the world, and is also the Hong Kong licensee of a variety of foreign catering brands, including Starbucks, Shake Shack, and Yoshinoya.

The company’s revenue took a dip during the civil unrest in 2019, as anti-government protesters called for a boycott of its restaurants and vandalised some of its outlets after the daughter of the group’s founder openly denounced the protests. — via Sean Tyler Chan / AdChoiceTV News

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