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Take steps to ensure food safety but don't be alarmist

There is almost nowhere on Earth that is aseptic; bacterial spores have even been found in outer space. Thus, we need to treat food and bacteria with great caution (Remove fried rice from cooked food stalls' menus, by Ms Amy Loh Chee Seen; May 15).

However, we should not be alarmist.

Any improper storage or cooking and subsequent reheating of food can lead to gastroenteritis, or food poisoning. This applies to all food.

While I am aware of "fried rice syndrome", I have not come across major episodes of patients being poisoned by Bacillus cereus. Most cases of food poisoning and stomach flu are caused by other far more common viruses and bacteria.

It is probably true that stepping into hospitals or even neighbourhood clinics - as sanitised as they may be - is more hazardous than eating well-cooked and stored rice.

However, that should not stop people from visiting a clinic or hospital if necessary, in the same way that no one should be afraid of enjoying a properly prepared and stored plate of fried rice.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 20, 2018, with the headline 'Take steps to ensure food safety but don't be alarmist'. Print Edition | Subscribe