AVA asks Irvins Salted Egg to improve quality checks after lizards found in snack products

Teng Yong Ping
Lifestyle Editor
Dead lizards found in Irvins Salted Egg snacks by three different customers. (PHOTOS: Decha Holloway, Serina G, Kevin Nguyen)

Following reports that dead lizards were found by customers in snack products made by Irvins Salted Egg, the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has asked the company to improve its quality control checks. No penalties were imposed on Irvins by the food regulatory agency.

In a statement on Monday (11 February), AVA said it inspected Irvins’ current premises after it received feedback last month that a lizard was found in an Irvins product. The regulator said the affected packet was produced at Irvins’ previous premises, which ceased operations in November 2018.

“We have asked Irvins to improve their quality control checks (e.g. conducting regular refresher training for quality control operators, sourcing ingredients from reputable suppliers and conducting regular audits),” said AVA. “Irvins has made improvements in these areas, as well as stepped up inspections on the production line.”

The company recently moved its production facilities to JTC Food Hub in Senoko Drive, a building housing various food manufacturing companies.

AVA said that it will continue to do periodic audits and enforcement checks on Irvins.

Jane Holloway, a Thai national from Bangkok, revealed on Facebook in December last year that her brother had found a dead gecko in a pack of the brand’s salted egg fish skin.

After Holloway’s photos of the lizard went viral, Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore learnt that the CEO and founder of the popular snack brand, Irvin Gunawan, was aware of dead lizards appearing in the company’s products as early as August last year, months before he apologised in a press statement over the latest case in January. The statement did not mention other similar incidents.

Two other customers – Serina G, a Malaysian, and Kevin Nguyen, a Vietnamese – had told Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore that they also found the dead lizards in their Irvins snack pouches. They separately made the discovery in March and August last year. In emails seen by Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore, Gunawan personally apologised to these customers in August 2018 after they complained to the company.

One of the customers reported the incident to AVA in August. After investigation, the AVA informed her that Irvins’ premises were “free of pests” in an email seen by Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore.

AVA did not respond to queries from Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore in January as to how many complaints it had received regarding contaminated Irvins products.

Irvins produces all its products in Singapore and distributes them to its stores overseas. The brand has seven stores in Singapore and three stores each in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

The company is famous for its salted egg-flavoured potato chips and fried fish skin, which are very popular among locals and tourists. The huge success of Irvins’ snacks has spawned other brands selling similar products.

Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore has reached out to Gunawan for comment.

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