Cleaning practices at eateries: NEA replies

We thank Mr Kumar Pillay Thangavalu for his feedback ("Review cleaning practices at eateries"; Forum Online, Oct 12).

Licensed food operators have the responsibility to ensure that food sold at retail outlets is prepared hygienically and safe for consumption.

Food operators and their food handlers are required to observe good food and personal hygiene practices at all times and ensure the cleanliness of the equipment and cutlery used.

Food handlers also have to register with the National Environment Agency (NEA).

They need to be aware of and practise good hygiene habits to ensure the food they prepare and serve is safe for consumption.

Licensees and operators of food retail outlets also have the responsibility to put in place processes to ensure that high hygiene standards are observed by their food handlers at all times.

Food retail outlets are inspected regularly and strict enforcement action is taken for any hygiene lapses found. Under the Environment Public Health (Food Hygiene) Regulations, licensees who are convicted for hygiene lapses can be fined up to $2,000.

In the first half of this year, NEA conducted about 75,000 inspections on food premises and took more than 1,600 enforcement actions against errant food operators who flouted hygiene regulations.

We advise members of the public who encounter poor hygiene practices in food establishments not to patronise such outlets and to call our 24-hour NEA Call Centre on 1800-CALL NEA (1800-2255-632) with details for our follow-up investigations.

Tony Teo

Director

Environmental Public Health Operations

National Environment Agency