KUALA LUMPUR – A shopping centre in Sarawak has apologised after coming under public pressure for throwing away a 600kg bowl of laksa, which broke the Malaysian record for popular street food.
The Plaza Merdeka mall on Monday (Oct 31) addressed criticism from the public about the food going to waste, saying in a Facebook post that safety reasons were behind the move. “We apologise for the oversight and misjudgement,” it said in a statement.
The mall had thrown away, among other items, 100kg of laksa paste, 225kg of rice noodles, 90kg of prawns, 1,008 eggs, 90kg of bean sprouts and 80kg of chicken, online newspaper The Malay Mail Online reported on Sunday.
The giant custom-made bowl of laksa, measuring 1.3m deep and 3.1m wide, was part of a successful attempt to be entered as “The Biggest Bowl of Laksa Sarawak” in the Malaysia Book of Records on Friday.
The huge bowl is equivalent to 1,500 bowls of Sarawak laksa.
But the move to bin the laksa after the event led to anger on social media,with some questioning why the food had not been donated instead.
The mall said it had initially planned for the laksa to be served.
But it decided against doing so “due to the delicacy of the ingredients, particular the fact that it contains a large amount of coconut milk”.
It added that the laksa had taken 15 hours to be produced and the display bowl had been sitting uncovered in the middle of the mall’s atrium, making it susceptible to “catch some undesirable elements in the process”. “So on the advice of our food safety team we decided to not risk public health serving it but to instead serve a fresh batch of an equivalent 1500 bowls the following day.”
The organiser had previously said the food was thrown away because it was “unhealthy for human consumption”.
The mall’s general manager, Cheah Kheng Mun, also told The Borneo Post on Sunday that the food had been cooked on Friday morning. He said it started to emit a foul odour at around 7pm, indicating that the coconut milk-based gravy had gone bad.
On Monday, the mall clarified the reason it had pulled off the record-breaking feat, saying it had done so as it wanted to “do our part to put our iconic Sarawakian dish ‘The Sarawak Laksa’ on the Malaysian and international map”.
“We admit once again that the wastage aspect of this effort was an unfortunate oversight and misjudgement on our part,” it said.