SINGAPORE - The National Environment Agency (NEA) has suspended 137 food licences this year, as of Nov 30.
About 136,000 inspections on food premises were conducted, and more than 2,700 enforcement actions were taken against errant food operators who flouted hygiene regulations.
"During these inspections, our officers also educate and remind licensees and food handlers on proper food and personal hygiene practices," the NEA said in an advisory on Wednesday (Dec 23).
It added that people who come across poor hygiene practices at food establishments should call the 24-hour NEA call centre at 1800-CALL NEA.
The agency also reminded the public about the ban on using raw freshwater fish in ready-to-eat (RTE) raw fish dishes since Dec 5.
From Thursday (Dec 24), members of the public can also visit the NEA website or access its myENV mobile application to check the records of individual retail food establishments for the approval to sell RTE raw fish dishes, the NEA said.
Members of the public can also scan the QR code on the NEA licence that is displayed at the retail food establishment to view the record of the retail food establishment, it said.
Under the ban, all retail food establishments that wish to sell such dishes, such as yu sheng dishes, can use only saltwater fish which are intended for raw consumption and which are hygienically handled and kept separated from other fish intended for cooking to avoid cross contamination.
Food stalls at hawker centres, coffee shops, canteens and food courts, and food establishments providing catering services are also required to stop the sale of RTE raw fish dishes until they can submit proof to NEA that they can meet the requirements for sale of these dishes.
"Members of the public should note that there are always risks involved in consuming raw food as harmful bacteria may be present. They should use common serving spoons when sharing food and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating," the advisory said.
Heading into the festive season, the agency reminded the public and food vendors alike to minimise the risk of food poisoning by practicing good food and personal hygiene.
People should hire only licensed food caterers and finish the food within the time stated on the packaging. Food operators should ensure that all handlers are registered with the NEA and do not prepare anything if they are sick.
"NEA will also continue with its inspections of caterers and restaurants, and has issued advisories to food operators to remind them to tighten their supervision of their food handlers during this peak season, and ensure that they adhere to good hygiene practices during food preparation," the agency said.
This article was first published on December 23, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.