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Published: Tuesday July 22, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday July 22, 2014 MYT 7:35:52 AM

Why restaurants fail health checks Poor hygiene practices main cause of failure

Steamboat restaurants in PJS 8 use the back lanes to prepare food and wash the utensils.

Steamboat restaurants in PJS 8 use the back lanes to prepare food and wash the utensils.

CHASING after profit thus slacking on cleanliness, cross-contamination, poor hygiene practices, attitude, lack of knowledge in food handling and high turnover of kitchen staff are among the top reasons restaurants in Selangor have been failing health inspections.

Selangor Health Department director Dr Balachandran Satiamurti said these were the top common reasons restaurants failed health inspections.

“For most restaurants, cleanliness has taken a back seat in favour of profit.

“Our district health departments (DHD) conducted 11,890 inspections at all eateries, including stalls in the nine districts in 2013, and another 5,307 from January to May this year.

“Our health inspectors have crunched the data, where 6,876 restaurants were inspected in 2013 and another 4,080 were checked from January to May 2014. In almost all inspections, there was at least one major violation,” he said. DHD had, in 2013, closed down 1,131 eateries from the 11,890 inspected.

Dr Balachandran said the restaurant business was a serious venture as it concerned people’s health.

“Kitchen helpers must wear aprons, head coverings and appropriate gloves while handling food. Kitchen sinks must be clean and equipped with paper towels. Other than that, no animals should be allowed to enter the kitchen,” he said.

He added that each restaurant and kitchen must be treated independently, with its own unique cleaning needs and hygiene requirements.

“Malaysia is a multi-cultural nation with various food preparation techniques and food must be prepared hygienically at all eateries. We advocate cleaning restaurant premises to the highest standards,” he said.

Dr Balachandran added that control at all levels of food preparation must be adhered to and even the utensils must be clean.

“Consumers must choose restaurants that are clean and be cautious. Diners must see, smell and taste the food before consuming it,” he said.

Dr Balachandran also advised consumers to assess a restaurant based on a simple check on its washrooms.

“Before you eat at a restaurant, just see if the washroom has liquid soap and paper towels and if the hand washing area is clean. Your nose is a good indicator. If the washroom smells horrid, there could be critical problems in the kitchen as well,” he said.

Consumers who find restaurants that pose a health risk must lodge a complaint with the Food Safety and Quality division in Selangor’s DHD.

“DHD receives numerous complaints of dirty restaurants. In 2012, we received 235 complaints. In 2013, there were 237 complaints and this year until June, DHD received 130 complaints.

“Our inspections following the complaints lodged showed that there were cleanliness violations, where 74 were recorded in 2012, 79 registered in 2013 and 50 recorded until June this year,” he said.

Dr Balachandran commended the people for being vigilant on the issue of cleanliness.

Meanwhile, Petaling Jaya mayor Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad said the council’s Health Department had closed 29 restaurants in 2013 and 11 until June this year because of poor hygiene standards.

“The restaurants were allowed to reopen after all the negative points had been rectified.

“We are also taking action against those who use the back lanes as their extended kitchens. Our health inspectors need to inform the restaurants to cease using the back lanes as kitchens,” she said.

Alinah added that food safety was a serious matter.

Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owner’s Association president T. Muthusamy urged the public to choose family restaurants and coffee shops that are clean.

“Consumers can encourage restaurants to follow cleanliness rules by keeping away from those that do not keep their premises clean,” he said.

Tags / Keywords: Central Region, Health, food, restaurant

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