Restaurant cleared over screw in soup

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 March, 2010, 12:00am

A businessman chipped a tooth from biting on a screw that came with his shark's fin soup, costing him HK$60,000 in dental fees, a court heard yesterday.

Robert Law Chi-fai, 65, was testifying in Kowloon City Court in a case brought by the Food, Environmental Hygiene Department against Maxim's Group.

But Deputy Special Magistrate Raymund Chow Chi-wei acquitted the catering group on the charge of providing 'food not of the substance demanded by the purchaser' because he did not accept Law's witness testimony.

Law bought the HK$40 meal last April at a Maxim's MX fast-food outlet at Whampoa Garden. He said that after biting on the screw his friend called the department while they were still in the restaurant.

Health inspector Barry Kwok Lap-hei arrived to inspect the pots in which the soup was served. He also took the screw away for a laboratory examination.

'I checked covers [of the pots] to see if the screws were in place. I didn't see any with a missing screw,' Kwok said. Neither did he find screws in the pre-packed shark fin packets.

Law said that he sent several letters to Maxim's Group demanding an explanation of how the screw got in the soup. In one letter he said he bled from biting the screw.

He insisted when testifying that financial compensation was never on his agenda.

However, counsel for the defendant said that receipts for the dental work were attached to the letters. Also, the phrase 'seeking compensation' was used.

Law did not mention initially when testifying that the restaurant offered to refund the money for the soup, and that a manager verbally promised to pay for medical expenses. He only mentioned this in a second round of questioning.

Chow said: 'The court does not accept the testimony. He did not spell out the facts entirely.'

Tooth ache

The amount (in HK dollars) Robert Law Chi-fai said he had to spend on dental fees after chipping his tooth: $60,000