Century-old 'fu chok' factory in Malaysia closed

GEORGE TOWN - A fu chok (bean curd sheets) factory in Tanjung Bungah, which is believed to be about 100 years old, was among five premises ordered to close by the state Health Department for violating hygiene and health guidelines.

The other four premises were another fu chok factory in the same area, an Indian sweetmeat factory in Teluk Kumbar, a soy sauce factory in Butterworth and a biscuit factory in Simpang Ampat.

Department environmental health officer Wong Kee Poh said it was discovered that some of the workers at the five premises had not received their typhoid vaccination, had not attended the food-handling course and did not wear proper attire in the kitchen.

"A worker in one of the fu chok factories was found working without wearing his shirt as it was hot and humid.

"It's unhygienic as sweat might fall on the bean curd sheets when they are left out to dry.

"At the other fu chok factory, the workers hung their towels next to the fu chok spread out on bamboo poles to dry," he said in a press conference in Komtar yesterday.

Department deputy director (food security and quality division) Ku Nafishah Ku Ariffin said 99 officers from the department, the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP), the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) and the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Department took part in the operation at 19 food processing outlets in all the five districts in Penang.

"Six notices were issued by the department with compounds totalling RM12,650 (S$4,909).

"The local councils also issued compound notices amounting to RM1,800 to the factories," she said.

She said the factories were ordered to be temporarily closed for 14 days and could be re-opened once they complied with the regulations.

"However, if they fail to comply after 14 days, the temporary closure will be extended for another 14 days," she added.

She added that some of the employers gave excuses that their workers were new and had yet to receive their vaccine jabs or attend the training course.

She also said the operation and hygiene standards at some of the old factories did not meet the required guidelines.

"They are still using conventional methods to process the food," Ku Nafishah said.

She said the department was scheduled to hold another operation at food processing premises later this month.

The public, she said, are advised to lodge complaints against unhygienic eateries and food premises at 04-201-7277/8.