Below is an article which is a continuation to the tragic food poisoning events that occurred in a Greyland market stall a few days ago.
The article states that the National environmental agency is prepared to get tougher on food business that lax food hygiene standards by revoking licences to do business. What is important to remember and seems to be lacking in the content of this article is that some offences of food hygiene are blatant breeches of public trust (licences are given by autorities which represent the public interest), knowingly placing members of the public at risk , disregard for legal process and crimanal neglegence. All of these are serious crimes and, in my opinion require much sterner punishment than the mere revoking of a licence. I would like to invite you to read the article and to see it you agree with my analysis.
It is my opinion that all food businesses should keep record of all purchaces of materials used in their business and that there be penalties for buying from any supplier who is not an authorized business operator himself. I believe that the othorities of markets should be placed in charge of checking these issues and that every market should have a resident and qualified round the clock governmental food hygiene inspector. The cost of this should come out of the taxes paid by the market stall operators.
“SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA), which is responsible for issuing licences for food stalls to operate, says it is satisfied with its current system.
Giving this assurance in the light of the Geylang Serai market food poisoning incident, NEA stressed that it is prepared to get tough with enforcement if unhygienic standards become more rampant.
The NEA manages 109 hawker centres with 5,600 cooked food stalls and another 9,000 market produce stalls.
To get a licence, food handlers have to attend and pass the basic food hygiene course and undergo the necessary medical screenings and inoculations.
Those above 35 years old also have to go through screening for tuberculosis.
But the agency noted an increasing number of hawkers have been issued tickets for food hygiene offences.
102 tickets were issued in 2006, 408 in 2007 and 730 last year.
Khoo Seow Poh, NEA’s director-general of public health, said: “For certain offences, currently we give a warning for a first offence. But if the situation of those kinds of offences becomes more rampant, then we may do away with the warning and straight away go for ticketing.”
Nineteen food stalls were suspended last year after they chalked up the maximum demerit points.
An average of four food poisoning incidents has been reported each year for the past three years. And at least three people were affected in each case.
Mr Khoo said: “As far as stallholders and stall assistants are concerned, it is their responsibility to make sure that the food that is served is safe, and on our part, following this incident, NEA will continue to work with stallholders and hawker associations to see how we can further improve and tighten hygiene regime.”
The NEA says the various hawker centre associations have devised a timetable for the spring cleaning procedures for the various food centres.
In fact spring cleaning is done at least two to three times a year.
Meanwhile NEA officers also check each individual stall at least once in six to eight weeks.
The Geylang Serai temporary market had its last round of spring cleaning last October.
But that did not get rid of the rats there.
Since last Friday, 41 rats have been killed by pest companies.
So is setting up a temporary market a good option?
Mr Khoo said: “It depends on the needs of the stallholders. If the upgrading period is long, some stallholders may need to make a livelihood to operate.
“Of course, NEA does provide them with vacant stalls for them to operate but some of them prefer to stay put to operate in the same area, because they want their regular customers to come back to them. We have to work with them to fulfil that.”
The new Geylang Serai market is expected to be ready by the end of this year“.