Public can play a part in boosting hygiene at eateries

We thank Mrs Marife Virginia Cruz Yap for her feedback ("Poor hygiene standards at some eateries"; Forum Online, May 2).

Licensed food retail operators have a public duty to ensure the food they sell to consumers is safe and hygienic.

This includes ensuring their food handlers, namely those handling and preparing food or beverages, have undergone the requisite training stipulated by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and are observing good hygiene practices in their daily work.

Besides ensuring that sufficient supervision and guidance are given to their food handlers, licensees should also institute a system of audits and checks to detect and address any poor hygiene habits.

Food handlers who are unwell should also not be allowed to handle or prepare food. They should don gloves when handling ready-to-eat food and wash their hands frequently between tasks.

Gloves used for food preparation should not be used for other tasks, such as handling money. The wearing of face masks should be encouraged.

Food retail outlets are inspected regularly and strict enforcement action is taken against any errant food retail outlets.

Last year, NEA conducted about 148,000 inspections on food premises and took more than 2,900 enforcement actions against errant food operators who flouted hygiene regulations.

During these inspections, our officers also educate and remind licensees and food handlers on proper food and personal hygiene practices.

Licensees who are convicted for hygiene lapses may be liable to a fine not exceeding $2,000 and may have their licences suspended.

We hope that members of the public will support the NEA in ensuring that food handlers remain vigilant and exercise good food hygiene practices at all times, by reminding operators against unhygienic practices, as well as reporting potential hygiene lapses that merit investigation to NEA at 1800-2255-632 or via the MyENV app.

Tony Teo

Director

Environmental Public Health Operations

National Environment Agency