NEA probes case of raw meat left to dry in 'unhygienic' way

Racks of raw meat drying in front of dusty air-conditioner compressor vents outside an HDB block in Beach Road. The National Environment Agency has advised members of the public not to purchase food prepared in poor-hygiene conditions as the food may
Racks of raw meat drying in front of dusty air-conditioner compressor vents outside an HDB block in Beach Road. The National Environment Agency has advised members of the public not to purchase food prepared in poor-hygiene conditions as the food may be unsafe for consumption.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

It was a sight to behold: Racks of red, raw meat hanging outdoors to dry in the heat from dusty air-conditioner compressor vents on the second-storey corridor of a Housing Board block in Beach Road.

Nearby, on the first storey of another block, trays of the same strips of meat propped up by overturned plastic stools had also been left outside to dry in the sun.

The meat was apparently being prepared as jerky for sale - both directly to customers from the "home manufacturer" and from a store at the nearby Golden Mile Complex, the Shin Min Daily News reported.

A 60-year-old man told the Chinese evening daily that he had to go downstairs almost daily to sun-dry the meat.

On good days, he claimed, he could get the meat about 80 per cent dried, then cooked and sold later in the store or on the street.

Disgusted residents at the Beach Road HDB blocks had sent the pictures - which included images of insects crawling on the slabs of meat - to the Chinese evening daily. They were published on Sunday.

The residents also complained about having to avoid the corridor at Block 1 Beach Road because of the stench. They said the drying meat also attracted flies and birds.

 
 
 

The National Environment Agency (NEA) is investigating.

An NEA spokesman told The New Paper (TNP): "(We) received feedback on the drying of raw meat at Blocks 1 and 6 Beach Road in front of air-conditioning compressors and along a corridor respectively, and the sale of this meat after being processed.

"NEA will not hesitate to take firm action against anyone found to be in violation of the Environmental Public Health Act. We would also like to advise members of the public who come across food prepared in poor-hygiene conditions to not purchase it, as the food may be unsafe."

When TNP visited one of the HDB units in question on Monday afternoon, it saw small pieces of shredded dried meat strewn along the corridor. Also, barbecue racks had been propped up near the compressor vents of the air-conditioning unit.

At Block 6, no meat was seen being dried outside in the sun.

One resident, who declined to be named, said the practice had been going for some time.

She said: "I don't remember exactly how long this has been going on, but it has been years, at least two to three, as far as I remember.

"They don't do it all the time, but whenever it is hot or sunny, they usually will do so."

Another resident told TNP in Mandarin: "When the wind blows in my direction, I can smell the stench from the raw, drying meat. It is so unhygienic, who would even eat it?"

When TNP visited the store at Golden Mile Complex on Monday, an employee said NEA officers had visited earlier that day. She said the store no longer sold the jerky.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2018, with the headline 'NEA probes case of raw meat left to dry in 'unhygienic' way'. Print Edition | Subscribe