We are all familiar with the idea of how Singapore is a clean country. Naturally, food hygiene in Singapore is one of the priorities on the minds of Singaporeans when it concerns food.
So authorities in Bangkok announced recently that they will be clearing up the streets of hawkers who peddle food on the streets, for order and hygiene reasons.
And miles away, Singaporeans were mourning; not for any royalty, but for the soon-to-disappear street food which Bangkok is famous for. But actually I wonder if Singaporeans really do patronise these stalls in Bangkok.
In Singapore, we don’t come across any of such road-side stalls since the 1980s when the government took the hawkers off the streets and housed them in hawker centres. One reason for this was for food hygiene reasons.
Recently, a Facebook post showing a sausage bun which was infested with maggots made its round and caused quite a bit of a stir amongst netizens.
This is definitely not the first time that food hygiene and security caused a furore on the Internet.
You might have seen pictures or videos of food that have been bitten by insects, rodents or maggots appearing on Social Media many times before, or even letters or texts that persuade people to avoid certain types of food or certain food outlets because of bad hygiene practices and all that jazz. And indeed, Singaporeans are particular about food hygiene standards, otherwise we won’t be so quick to share such information and pictures online.
Food Hygiene Measure in place
But Singapore already has a stringent food hygiene standard in place. The National Environment Agency (NEA) regulates all food stalls and eating establishments in Singapore. This is important as Singapore has a reputation of a Food haven.
And if Singapore intends to uphold this reputation for a long time, it definitely has to maintain these strict hygiene measures.
Did you know that Food handlers have to attend a Workforce Skills Qualifications Basic Food Hygiene Course which consists of 6 hours of course work and 1.5 hours of assessment? Every 5 years, these food handlers would have to attend a refresher course.
Once upon a time, food handlers were required to undergo a mandatory typhoid vaccination and tuberculosis screening. But since 2010, this requirement was ceased after the NEA consulted with the Ministry of Health.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg, there is more to the Food Hygiene Standards in Singapore, including a Food Safety Management System.
Although Singapore has strict food safety measures, it is inevitable that, once in a while a case of foreign objects appearing in foods surface on Social Media and causes a commotion. But it is not just responsibility of the hawker or chef, but also further up the chain where the food ingredient is prepared.
And when we find worms, or insects in our bun or food, keep calm and report it to the authorities, instead of just posting it all over the Internet.