PETALING JAYA - The filtration system in water vending machines can become breeding grounds for bacteria if not serviced regularly, say experts.
Malaysian Association of Standards Users CEO Ratna Devi Nadarajan said the purpose of the system is to filter out bacteria, but if it is not maintained or serviced regularly, it can breed bacteria.
Besides the filter, she said the exposed nozzle could also collect bacteria if not maintained or cleaned.
"The fact that faecal Coliform has been found in water shows that it is already very bad.
"We cannot compromise on this. Such bacteria should not be there at all," she said.
Ratna, however, said Coliform could be easily treated with chlorine.
She said the presence of free chlorine in water was an indication that the disinfectant was still working.
"But in many of the water samples, there were no traces of free chlorine, which meant that the treatment of water was not done properly."
Ratna said the presence of Coliform in drinking water could cause diarrhoea or other stomach problems, especially in children and those with existing health problems.
Forum Air Malaysia research and policy executive Jesslyn Pek said the Clostridium perfringens bacteria that was found in water samples tested was not hazardous in water but could cause food poisoning.
"It usually causes stomach problems for about a day and people may not know that is due to the water.
"Food poisoning can result if this water is used for cooking," she said.
Pek said the condition of many of the water vending machines was also found not to be in accordance with Part 5 (55) of the Food Hygiene Regulation 2009.
"According to the rules, the machines must be 'equipped with self-closing, tight-fitting doors on the dispense compartment when the water vending machine is not in use'.
"Some machines had doors which could not shut on their own while others did not even have doors," she said.
Pek urged the Health Ministry to take immediate action by screening the operators of the vending machines.