SINGAPORE: All food establishments that are licensed to provide catering services must have closed-circuit televisions cameras (CCTVs) installed from the first quarter of 2022, announced Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Wednesday (Mar 4).
“SFA (Singapore Food Agency) will be introducing new measures to safeguard food safety. Premises which pose higher food safety risks, such as caterers and central kitchens, will be required to install Closed-Circuit Televisions Cameras,” said Mr Masagos during the Committee of Supply debate.
“This enables them to monitor food safety performance and provide evidence in the event of food safety allegations.”
SFA conducted more than 5,200 inspections in 2019, and took more than 1,600 enforcement actions against errant operators, he added.
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The CCTVs will allow the food establishments to better monitor their operations and shape good behaviour among food handlers to comply with food safety and hygiene regulations, said SFA in a separate media release.
In the event of a gastroenteritis outbreak, SFA will request for CCTV footage from the implicated food establishments to facilitate investigations, said the agency.
According to SFA, about 1,000 existing food establishments, including caterers and central kitchens, will need to meet this requirement. New and existing establishments will have to submit their CCTV plans for their licence to be approved or renewed.
In light of the recent spate of gastroenteritis outbreaks, food establishments catering to vulnerable groups like pre-schools and nursing homes will have to retain samples of the food they provide, said Mr Masagos.
This “will facilitate investigations during foodborne outbreaks”.
INTEGRATED LICENSING AND RECOGNITION
Mr Masagos also announced that SFA will introduce an integrated licensing and recognition framework for food establishments in the first half of 2021.
“SFA will award a longer licence duration and a higher recognition to food establishments which uphold high food safety and hygiene standards. This way, SFA can re-prioritise resources to focus on checks to ensure compliance with food safety requirements,” he said.
The new framework will recognise and incentivise food establishments to continue providing good food safety assurance by maintaining high food safety standards, said SFA in a media release.
Food establishments will be divided into three categories, said Mr Masagos, depending on the level of food handling involved. About 20,000 food establishments are expected to come under the integrated framework, he added.
Establishments in Category A and B involve significant or moderate food handling practices, such as restaurants or bakeries respectively.
They will be recognised with longer licences and presented with higher award tiers if they put in place systems and processes to strengthen their food safety and hygiene standards, as well as demonstrate good food safety performance, he said.
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Establishments in Category C such as supermarkets, which involve minimal food handling, that have a good track record of food safety assurance will be similarly eligible for longer licences.
This framework will replace the annual grading and licence renewal system for food establishments, and incorporates the Food Hygiene Recognition Scheme for retail food outlets.
Despite the longer licences, SFA noted that it will continue to carry out inspections to ensure food establishments comply with food safety and hygiene requirements.
“Food establishments which commit any major food safety or hygiene lapse or are implicated in a gastroenteritis outbreak will have their award tier downgraded. They will also be issued a new licence with a duration corresponding to the lower award tier,” said the agency.