Penang to ban foreign cooks at hawker stalls in bid to safeguard food heritage

Street food hawkers in Penang, Malaysia. Penang has banned foreign workers from working as cooks in hawker food stalls, in an attempt to preserve the state's food heritage, Malaysian media reported. -- PHOTO: MARK ONG 
Street food hawkers in Penang, Malaysia. Penang has banned foreign workers from working as cooks in hawker food stalls, in an attempt to preserve the state's food heritage, Malaysian media reported. -- PHOTO: MARK ONG 

GEORGE TOWN - Penang has banned foreign workers from working as cooks in hawker food stalls, in an attempt to preserve the state's food heritage, Malaysian media reported.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said roadside hawker stalls that did not comply would have their licenses revoked. The rule will also apply to food court stalls.

Authorities will also issue stickers which hawkers can display to show that their food is "authentically local".

"The main idea of this is to safeguard Penang's food heritage and maintain the flavours that are unique to Penang," the Malaysian Insider quoted him as saying on Friday.

Hawkers will be given a year's grace period to comply. Stall owners can still hire foreigners as stall helpers, and prepare ingredients, he said.

The Chief Minister had mooted the idea in July this year.

The state will be going ahead after a survey they conducted from July till August showed that more than 80 per cent of the respondents were in favour of the new regulations.

Lim told reporters that even Singaporeans praised the proposal, telling him during his visits here that Singapore should have done the same.

Restaurants, food outlets with centralised kitchens, and stalls in coffee shops, which do not require hawker licences, are not subject to the new rules.