SINGAPORE: There will be increased checks on food establishments during the festive season, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said on Monday (Dec 3).
The checks will prioritise licensees that provide catering services and other premises with substantial catering operations in December, the agencies said in a joint statement.
Ahead of an expected increase in the number of consumers dining out and ordering catered food, the agencies said they will remind food operators of good hygiene practices during food preparation and handling.
The emphasis on caterers comes after three mass food poisoning incidents in November.
Last week, more than 130 students and teachers fell ill after consuming food prepared by FoodTalks Caterer and Manufacturer while attending a kids' camp.
Restaurant group TungLok's catering arm had their licence suspended after 190 people fell ill with symptoms of gastroenteritis, authorities said on Nov 24.
Earlier, a SATS officer died after consuming food from restaurant chain Spize's River Valley outlet. He was among 81 people who fell sick after eating food supplied by the restaurant.
TungLok Catering, Spize's River Valley outlet have had their licences suspended, while FoodTalks remains under investigation.
Authorities also reminded members of the public to consume catered food within the stipulated "consume by" period.
This is set at within four hours of the time the food is placed at the "temperature danger zone" of between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius. Caterers are required to time-stamp to meals to keep consumers informed of the "consume by" time.
"Every catered meal carries an inherent risk as the food is not consumed immediately after it is prepared," the agencies said.
The NEA said it will also engage representatives from the Association of Catering Professionals Singapore and the Restaurant Association of Singapore about the importance of food hygiene and safety.
As of the end of November, the NEA has carried out over 73,000 inspections on food establishments, taken more than 2,600 enforcement actions against those who flouted hygiene regulations and suspended 84 licences.
AVA has carried out over 9,000 inspections on food manufacturers, taken action against close to 500 licensees and suspended 13 licences this year.