Hong Kong’s convenience store chain Circle K has been fined HK$3500 after a customer found 208 ants in a hot dog sold at one of its outlets in January.
It was reported that a customer bought a hot dog from the Wah Fu Estate Town Centre store on January 23, and discovered many ants in the bread. The case was reported to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, only to find 208 ants in total upon subsequent examinations.
The store chain faced a summons for food not of the quality demanded by the purchaser, and the company’s representative pleaded guilty on the court.
Special magistrate Arthur Lam Hei-wei asked the store to step up its supervision and said that “even one ant is one too many”.
He was told the chain had six previous convictions for the same offense, and was fined HK$5,000 the last time – yet it was the first prosecution for its Wah Fu Estate outlet.
He then fined the chain store HK$3500, which is about HK$16.8 per ant.
Circle K told the South China Morning Post that the hot dog may have been contaminated outside the store because the ants were found 20 minutes after the customer left the premises. The company said it pleaded guilty to avoid prolonging the legal process.
“We, Circle K, always put the products’ safety and food hygiene as top priorities. The outlet at Wah Fu Estate had been inspected by an officer from [the department] for the case reported, and he was satisfied with the store conditions for food production without further question,” the spokeperson said.
Marketing has reached out to Circle K for response.