Forum: Foodcourt cleaners wipe trays instead of washing them

Amid the Covid-19 situation, everyone has to play his part to keep safe. It does not mean just wearing a mask, but everyone practising good clean habits all around.

I wish to highlight a particular foodcourt that has had a habit of not washing the food trays even before Covid-19 was upon us.

The cleaners would use the same cloth to clean dirty trays and to wipe the tables, and return those "cleaned" trays to the stalls without washing them.

Imagine a tray that held food crumbs, bones and used tissue paper, but was merely wiped instead of washed. These are the same trays that stallholders use to hold cut vegetables.

I have brought this to the attention of the National Environment Agency and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

The SFA's response was that it had "inspected the said foodcourt on July 27 but did not detect any lapses at the time of inspection".

"However, we have highlighted this feedback to the operator and advised them to ask their cleaning contractor to use different coloured cloth for cleaning food waste and the table and to sanitise these cloths regularly," it added.

I am appalled that the SFA would even suggest just using different cloths to clean trays and tables, and not go the distance and require all trays to be washed. How is this practising good hygiene?

Food trays carry food and utensils. We carry the trays with our bare hands. Shouldn't these trays be washed after every use?

By the same token, shouldn't all foodcourts also be told to sanitise all tables after clearing them?

If hawker centres are made to close for thorough cleaning periodically, then should foodcourts not be made to do the same?

How is it that there are different rules when both serve food? An air-conditioned foodcourt does not mean a cleaner eating environment.

It is one thing to tell Singaporeans to practise good hygiene, it is another thing to not enforce good hygiene practices in the very places that we patronise for our meals.

Anita Thaver