Food licence suspensions near last year's figure, NEA advises good food hygiene during festive season

A crow eating food off dishes left behind at an open-air food court
A crow eating food off dishes left behind at an open-air food courtPHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - The National Environment Agency (NEA) suspended 131 food outlet licences as at the end of November, nearly on par with the 132 suspensions in the whole of last year.

It conducted more than 82,000 inspections on food retail establishments and took some 2,900 enforcement actions against operators who failed to comply with hygiene regulations, the agency said on Wednesday (Dec 20).

It also advised food operators and the public to practise good food hygiene during the festive season. As eateries may see more customers, it is important to maintain good hygiene standards, it said.

Special caution should be taken when ordering catered food, the NEA said, as catering operations involve advance preparation and food is not immediately consumed. Consumers should engage only licensed food caterers, a list of which is available on NEA's website.

Apart from adopting a mandatory food safety management system that ensures good practices are observed, caterers are also required to time-stamp meals with a recommended "consume by" time, set at four hours from the time a cooked dish is left at the "temperature danger zone" of between 5 deg C and 60 deg C.

Contaminated cooked food kept between those temperatures may result in the bacteria multiplying to levels high enough to cause food poisoning, the NEA warned.

Food operators are also advised to ensure that all food handlers are registered with the NEA and that they do not engage in any food preparation if they are sick.