PEOPLE in Ipoh are unperturbed by news of a typhoid outbreak in Kuala Lumpur and will continue to enjoy their nga choy kai (beansprout and chicken), chicken sar hor fun (kuey tiaw) and other local fare.
Those interviewed by The Star said they are aware of the outbreak that occurred in Kuala Lumpur but dismissed any worries about the preparation and cooking of food by foreign workers here.
Businessman W.G. Wong, 63, said he feels that the situation in Ipoh is not as serious as in Kuala Lumpur.
“Ipoh is not like Penang or Kuala Lumpur where there are more foreigners doing the cooking.
“Most food handlers at restaurants and coffeeshops here are still locals,” he said.
“I hardly see any foreigners doing the cooking here. There are some but not a lot of them,” he added.
Wong said he is however worried with a message that is being shared on Facebook about unhygienic handling of ice cubes in illegal factories that is causing the typhoid.
The Health Ministry has since dismissed the claims as untrue.
Insurance agent Kelvin Liu, 31, who eats out frequently also said he is not worried about the disease.
Liu also said there are not many foreign workers working as cooks or chefs in Ipoh.
“Most of the food at eateries that I frequent are prepared by local cooks.
“But of course, not all eateries that have local cooks are also well maintained and clean and we should be careful of these places,” he said.
Over 30 cases of typhoid have beendetected over the last three months in Kuala Lumpur.
The Health Ministry had said that the outbreak was possibly caused by foreign workers that handle and cook food.
The Perak Health Department recorded 30 cases of typhoid from January to Oct 20.
State Health Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said the epidemic is, however, under control as 21 of the cases involved illegal immigrants occurred during an outbreak at a remand depot in Hilir Perak in August.
Other cases in Kinta, Hulu Perak and Manjung were isolated incidents.
As of September, some 9,027 food premises have been inspected and 75 premises were ordered to shut down for 14 days under Section 11 of the Food Act 1983 for cleaning and disinfection.
Housewife Lim Ah Chan, in her 60s, said following the outbreak, she is more cautious when eating out.
“Be it foreign workers or locals, we should be careful about the premises that we eat in. A lot of people are starting to be more aware and conscious of their health now,” she said.
“I do check first on how food handlers prepare the food. Some food might just be left uncovered and dust or flies might just land on it,” she added.
Lim said she prefers to eat home-cooked meals.
“I think it’s always healthier to eat at home compared to eating outside,” she said.
A mamak shop owner, who declined to be named, said the outbreak has caused a bit of a scare among his customers.
The owner, 48, assured that all workers at his shop always practise good hygiene when preparing and handling food.
“The issue is quite a sensitive matter. Everyone knows how important cleanliness is to us food operators. Health Department officers will come to conduct checks at our premises and if there’s something wrong, we will be forced to close down,” he said.
“We can’t be risking our business like that,” he added.