One-size-fits-all approach to food hygiene rating does not work

The current hygiene grading system for eateries introduced in 1997 has not produced its desired outcome (New scheme to rate eateries' food hygiene from late 2020; June 20).

I have observed that stalls that are often awarded the A rating by the National Environment Agency (NEA) tend to be those dealing in beverages, cut fruits and ice cream for the simple reason that their items are non-greasy and easier to manage.

Conversely, operators of cooked food stalls such as mixed vegetable rice and assorted food may find it an uphill task to obtain better ratings.

This is due to the myriad of fresh meat, poultry, seafood and other perishable food items that they have to store, slice and cook.

Such stall areas can be very messy and slippery considering the amount of cooking oil and ingredients used in the preparation of food, especially during peak periods.

The new food hygiene recognition scheme gives patrons an insight into how the food establishments are rated in terms of food hygiene and, more importantly, their track records.

It is important the hygiene standards of stalls are transparent to customers so that these establishments can ensure that good hygiene levels are maintained or further improved.

Above all, NEA should not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to its grading system. Rather it should take into account various factors, such as the type of business, customer traffic and the people involved in the food preparation.

This is a more equitable and accurate method of assessment.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2018, with the headline 'One-size-fits-all approach to food hygiene rating does not work'. Print Edition | Subscribe