Chinese hotpot chain Haidilao reopens Beijing branches after food hygiene scandal

Customers can now watch live video feeds from inside kitchens as managers seek to reassure customers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 October, 2017, 5:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2018, 6:45pm

Two Beijing branches of the popular Chinese hotpot chain Haidilao are reported to have reopened following a food hygiene scare in August.

The stores, along with 25 other branches in the capital, now offer a live stream video feed from their kitchens to customers who wish to keep an eye on how their food is being prepared, Legal Evening News reported on Tuesday.

In August, undercover journalists from the newspaper reported that there were serious hygiene problems in the Taiyanggong and Jinsong outlets.

These included rats in the kitchens, used plates and cutlery being washed together with brooms and dirty cloths, and hotpot ladles used to clean the drains.

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Haidilao issued an official response at the time acknowledging there were hygiene problems in the kitchens, and announced new measures to improve cleanliness at all branches while the two Beijing stores were temporarily closed.

The stores reopened on Saturday, but staff told reporters that they now had far fewer customers than before the incident despite the new safety measures.

More than 10 customers had inspected the restaurant kitchens in person according to the management, who said they were keen to promote the “bright kitchens and shiny stoves” initiative launched by the food and drugs administration in 2014 to combat food safety concerns.

Haidilao is not the first Chinese restaurant chain to offer live streams from its kitchens, however.

Thanks to an app run by Sunshine Catering, a project affiliated with the local food and drug administration, customers can view the real-time kitchen preparations of thousands of food outlets in Beijing.

Chinese food delivery companies Meituan and Ele.me have also offered live streams from their kitchens via their apps since April, according to Shanghai-based news website Sixth Tone.