Forum: Utensils at eateries not stored hygienically

Diners at Yishun Hawker Centre, on Aug 26, 2019.
Diners at Yishun Hawker Centre, on Aug 26, 2019.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

I agree with Ms Dawn Chen Wenhui's points (Impressed by cleanliness, efficiency of some foodcourts in Shanghai, Nov 28).

The cleanliness standard in Singapore's hawker centres can be improved. I am sure most Singaporeans have seen tables being wiped with a grubby-looking cloth that is used over and over again without being cleaned or disinfected. I still see hawkers handling money and then food with the same hand. I saw a rat running across a hawker centre in the day recently, and reported it in the Ministry of National Development's OneService app.

What I find very disturbing is a practice that is becoming commonplace in a lot of eateries. Forks and spoons are placed upright, close together, in a container, with the eating surfaces pointing upwards. How is anyone able to take out a fork and spoon without touching the other forks and spoons?

I shudder to think of the germs from the hands of many people that are getting on the utensils. I gave feedback on this issue in the OneService app, and received a reply from the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) telling me that food safety is a shared responsibility and that the utensils can be wiped down by consumers before use.

What can a person use to wipe down the utensils other than tissue paper, which is commonly carried but is useless against germs?

At a few eating places in Thailand, I saw a rice cooker with boiling water placed beside the utensils in a common location so that anyone taking the utensils can dunk them into the water to clean them.

I hope the SFA can look into this, and change the way hawkers store utensils.

Roger Chua Yeu Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2019, with the headline 'Utensils at eateries not stored hygienically'. Print Edition | Subscribe