SINGAPORE: Food establishments are making adjustments to their menus following the ban on ready-to-eat raw freshwater fish. The restriction comes after a series of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infections, which saw several people fall ill after eating raw fish porridge.
The ban also kicks in ahead of the Chinese New Year season, when yusheng, a popular dish featuring raw fish, is traditionally served.
Food delivery company foodpanda, for example, is taking yusheng completely off its menu until it gets the green light from authorities. Foodpanda said this move will cause very minimal impact, as it is not a popular dish enjoyed year-round like pizza and Thai food.
It also reached out on Sunday (Dec 6) to its vendors who serve sushi and sashimi. There are around 20 of them.
Foodpanda said it will continue to deliver these delicacies, as the restaurants have been allowed by the National Environment Agency to operate as usual.
Restaurant operators can sell dishes featuring raw saltwater fish, as they generally observe proper food handling, said NEA. Saltwater fish also have significantly lower bacterial contamination than freshwater ones.
Foodpanda said it will work closely with vendors to ensure the safety of customers.
“We found out about this new regulation on Saturday, and for us it's very important to act very fast to those things, but also be a strong partner to our restaurants and inform them about those regulative changes, and support them in complying to Singaporean law," said Mr Jakob Angele, CEO of foodpanda. “They (the restaurants) got informed by NEA that there will be very detailed investigations and ensuring that all the processes that those restaurants have in their outlets are compliant and fulfil the highest standards when it comes to freshness of food and freshness, in particular of those raw fish options."
Food catering company Purple Sage has also made adjustments to its yusheng recipe.
It typically sells more than 100 yusheng platters nearly every day during the Chinese New Year season. However, the company will now use cooked fish instead.
It is proposing abalone as a replacement, so customers can still enjoy yusheng.
"Based on the current situation we have immediately about almost 10 to 15 per cent of our orders that are being affected," said Mr Alan Tan, managing director of Purple Sage. "So we will have to zoom in immediately to replace all these menus that are already in the customers' proposal.
"I've already discussed with my chef, and we will go into using abalone to replace raw fish for the time being. But of course, using abalone will increase our price by about 15 per cent minimum, because abalone is still more expensive than raw fish. On the other hand, I think it's really a no-choice situation so the company will basically absorb the difference in the cost."