SINGAPORE – The National Environment Agency (NEA) has banned the use of all freshwater fish in ready-to-eat raw fish dishes with immediate effect.
The agency said in a media release on Saturday (Dec 5) that tests conducted by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and NEA have found freshwater fish to have significantly higher bacterial contamination than saltwater fish, and to have higher risks of infection when consumed raw.
All retail food establishments that want to sell raw fish dishes must use only saltwater fish intended for raw consumption. This refers to fish that are typically bred or harvested from cleaner waters, and are stored and distributed according to cold chain practices.
NEA will be issuing notices to all retail food establishments to inform them of the ban.
Food stalls including those at hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts are required to stop all sales of raw saltwater fish as well, until they have shown that they can comply with the practices required for handling raw fish.
Restaurants operators can continue operations, but will still be subjected to the same inspections and checks by NEA.
The AVA and NEA also said in the media release that they will be working with the industry to meet the expected increase in demand for yusheng dishes during the upcoming Chinese New Year season.
Advice on eating raw fish
1. Do not consume freshwater fish raw.
2. If you wish to eat raw fish, consume only saltwater fish intended for raw consumption.
3. Fish intended for raw consumption must go through appropriate cold chain management practices. It must also be handled hygienically throughout the supply chain and kept separate from other fish intended for cooking, to avoid cross contamination.
4. Most fish sold at Singapore’s wet markets, fresh produce section of supermarkets and fishery ports do not meet these conditions, and should not be eaten raw.
5. Vulnerable groups of people, such as young children, pregnant women, elder persons, or people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, should avoid the consumption of all varieties of raw fish.
6. Members of the public are reminded that cooking is still the most effective way to kill bacteria.