TCM shops need licences to prepare food, drinks

More than 300 traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) stores that currently prepare food and drinks on their premises for customers must apply for food retail licences if they intend to keep up the practice.

Such stores that prepare food and drinks such as tea-leaf eggs and herbal tea on site have until March 1 next year to do so, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a statement yesterday.

Additionally, new TCM stores that want to have the same practices must apply for the licence for such food preparation areas within their premises from NEA by March 1 this year.

The areas must comply with the design and infrastructural requirements as stipulated in the Code of Practice on Environmental Health for food retail.

Those who prepare such food and drinks must also pass the Basic Food Hygiene Course, which teaches food handlers how to handle and prepare food safely and hygienically.

NEA has engaged the Singapore Chinese Druggists Association and TCM shops on its new move, which aims to ensure hygienic preparation of such products and to strengthen food hygiene standards.

There are more than 300 existing TCM shops that have such practices, according to NEA's checks with the association and other major chain operators.

To obtain a licence, the shops must meet basic requirements such as having a piped water inlet and a wastewater outlet in the food preparation area.

Other requirements in the code can be waived on a case-by-case basis until the premises undergo any major renovations needed.

NEA will share its design and operational guidelines with existing operators on how they can ensure hygienic food preparation on their premises.

TCM operators can visit the NEA website for more information.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2018, with the headline 'TCM shops need licences to prepare food, drinks'. Print Edition | Subscribe