Ensure hawkers follow rules on hygiene

The issue of whether hawkers are allowed to sell raw fish calls into question the hygiene practices of our hawkers ("Two stalls get approval to sell raw salmon dishes"; Jan 9).

Regulation 12 of the Sale of Food (Food Establishments) Regulations states that hawkers should not handle food with their bare hands, but use a clean fork, tongs, scoop or other suitable equipment, or wear clean gloves.

It appears that some hawkers are still not complying with this basic requirement.

My recent visit to a hawker centre revealed that only stalls which segregate the duties of cashier and food handler comply with the rule.

Even then, it seems that they comply only because the workflow requires them to do it.

Many other hawkers use the same pair of gloves for all purposes, thereby cross-contaminating the food.

In this regard, surprise enforcement by the authorities is necessary.

It would be of interest to know how often enforcement spot checks are carried out, and the number of hawkers who flout the rules.

Hawkers who openly disregard the gloves rule endanger our health.

In this regard, we should not disallow the sale of raw fish.

Rather, the authorities should ensure that there is adequate manpower and effort to impose strict hygiene for the safety of consumers.

Andrew Seow Chwee Guan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2016, with the headline 'Ensure hawkers follow rules on hygiene'. Print Edition | Subscribe