New scheme takes into account eateries' track record on food hygiene

We thank Mr Aaron Low Chin Yong for his feedback on the new food hygiene recognition scheme (New grading system may favour established eateries; June 27).

All National Environment Agency-licensed food retail establishments in Singapore are required to meet the necessary minimum hygiene requirements to operate, including having the necessary infrastructure and trained expertise to ensure the safe preparation, handling and sale of food. The NEA conducts regular inspections to check that operators continue to meet these requirements.

The new food hygiene recognition scheme provides further recognition for operators who have put in consistent effort in upholding high food hygiene standards.

Under the new scheme, operators which maintain a consistent track record in our regular inspections with no major hygiene lapses for at least two, five or 10 years will be given a bronze, silver or gold award decal respectively.

Currently, all food retail establishments are graded either A, B, C or D based on an annual snapshot assessment of the premises' hygiene standards that is conducted independently of the regular inspection regime.

The current grading scheme thus does not provide any information on whether the food retail establishment had been consistent in its hygiene practices before or after attaining the grade.

The new scheme, on the other hand, takes into account the track record of the establishment from every hygiene inspection of the licensed premises, thereby encouraging operators to uphold good hygiene practices at all times.

The recognition award may be downgraded or rescinded if the operator subsequently commits any serious hygiene infringements or if the premises have been implicated in a food poisoning incident.

For food retail businesses which change their licence because of the physical relocation of their premises, the NEA may exercise flexibility by allowing them to retain their awards if the operators remain the same.

Operators with such requests can write in to the NEA.

In addition to the new scheme, members of the public can obtain other useful information on food retail establishments' hygiene track record, such as its suspension history and accumulated demerit points, via the existing Food Hygiene Information Portal.

The portal can be accessed through the NEA website, myENV app or via the QR code found on the licence decal displayed at all licensed premises.

Adeline Oi Kheng Leong (Ms)

Director Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

National Environment Agency

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2018, with the headline 'New scheme takes into account eateries' track record on food hygiene'. Print Edition | Subscribe