‘Just chow did that get in my Pak Choi?!’

The larva the lady claims she spooned onto her plate
The larva the lady claims she spooned onto her plate

A vegetarian office worker was horrified when she found a creepy crawly in her Chinese takeaway.

The late-night worker claims that she found a ‘maggot’ in her Chinese takeaway, its picture now identified by experts to be an insect larva that is most likely harmless.

How Cha Noodle Bar

How Cha Noodle Bar

The customer care employee had been working late with friends when they had ordered food from How Cha Noodle Bar, Chapel Street, on January 31, an eatery with a current hygiene rating of ‘3’ from the Food Standards Agency.

She claims: “I was dishing up my Pak Choi onto my plate when I spotted it and two of my colleagues had to go out the room and were physically sick. The only other thing on my plate was takeaway rice.”

The office worker says she tried to call the takeaway but to no avail, so the team headed down with the non-moving insect and received a full refund.

Meixia Whiteley, manager of How Cha Noodle Bar, claims: “We are very sorry for what has happened and would like to write to the lady, apologising. This is an isolated incident which has never happened before. We are sorry we couldn’t answer the phone, as lines are always very busy during the evening.

“I took over the business in May last year, modernising the kitchen and making sure staff are meticulously clean.

“We washed the Pak Choi for five minutes, then placed it in 100 degree boiling water, before putting it in the wok.

“It’s possible the heat could have encouraged the vegetable worm out, but if so, it would have been cooked - not this white colour? Perhaps the friends had other salad food it could have come from.

“The Food Standards Agency visited on January 24, seeming very pleased. We are waiting for a new star rating.”

Most of the restaurant’s Pak Choi is farmed in the UK and chemicals are not used on the vegetables.

A Luton Borough Council spokesman said: “We have been contacted by a member of the public regarding food purchased from a Luton restaurant. We are still conducting our investigation and are unable to comment further.”

Professor Jim Hardie, director of science at the Royal Entomological Society, said: “We eat lots of insects without knowing it and are not harmed. It would not make you ill if you ate it but it is not possible to be 100 per cent certain. Would I eat it? Yes.”

Julian Clare, manager of Wrigglies Exotic Pets, Dunstable, said: “The picture is not of a maggot. There is definitely the presence of legs in the photograph.

“A maggot’s mouth looks like a pair of tweezers, but this looks like the mouth of a caterpillar larva, which has its jaws underneath the body.

“Incidentally, have a fairly good knowledge of the food industry, as I previously worked for 25 years as a bakery and compliance manager for a supermarket.

“In terms of food contamination I’ve got a good background. There is very little in the way of insecticides used as most restaurant wholesalers buy products in markets and the foods will be natural.

“If it did come from the Pak Choi, I would be reluctant to question the restaurant quality. It is just the nature of the food preparation - not using insecticides.

“I doubt very much there’s a chain restaurant in the land that hasn’t had a problem at some point before. Look at the big supermarkets that have found things in prepared salads.”