Friday, December 14, 2007

Food Safety

The recent Prima Deli incident brought the public's attention back to the basics - food safety. Many had always assumed Singapore has a high standard in food safety and hygiene standards, unfortunately it is nothing but far from the truth.

Prima Deli incident is a good example. Four of their food handling staff had been found to have the Salmonella bacteria. What does this mean? It means their staff did not go through a proper medical check-up to ensure they are fit to handle food. But how many food handling staff have gone through a 'proper' medical check-up in Singapore? Look at the uncles and aunties at your coffee shop or food court, do you think they went through any form of medical check-up at all? How do you know they don't have any infectious disease such as hepatitis A/B/C?

Look at how some people handle food and money? Yes, they wear gloves, but the sole purpose is not to dirty their hands. They use the very same hand to handle food, sometimes in direct touch with food, and handle money. Isn't it common knowledge money is the dirtiest in the world? Oh, we are not talking about the sins of money, but the bacteria on it.

It is not uncommon to find hairs in your food in Singapore. I personally encountered numerous times such incidents. The bigger horror is to find cockcroaches in your food. A colleague of mine had that encounter a few months ago at a neighbourhood coffee shop. In his case, at least he got a refund. In yesterday's Today newspaper, a Korean study mama related her incident. She went for a meal at restaurant with her kids, then she found a cockcroach in her food! Guess what the duty manager said? The manager claimed that the cockcroach had been cooked under extreme high temperature in the oven, so it was clean without any bacteria or germs. Safe for consumption!

Food safety standard still has a lot of room for improvement. Maybe it is already much better than many countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and China. Why do we want to compare with those with a lower standard but not a higher standard? Just to satisfy our ego? Even if ours is the best in the world, we should still continue to make an effort to stamp any weak points.

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