FOUR boarding school kitchens in the state have been ordered to close for two weeks following a joint enforcement operation by the Perak Health Department held between Oct 10 and 12.
State health director Datuk Dr Juita Ghazalie said the kitchens were closed because of unsatisfactory cleanliness conditions.
“The four premises have been ordered to close under Section 18 (1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 because the conditions were unhygienic and could lead to food poisoning.
“Three of the kitchens were found to have rats and cockroaches,” she said in a statement.
“The cleanliness for the last kitchen was found wanting with a cleanliness evaluation of only 70%.
“Of the four premises that were ordered to close, the one in Hulu Perak had a food poisoning outbreak in 2014,” she added.
Dr Juita said the operation was to ensure all kitchens and canteens are clean.
“We have checked some 195 premises, involving 89 boarding school kitchens and 106 school canteens.
“The operation was held following a spate of food poisoning incidents in the state,” she said.
It was reported in August that 70 students from SM Poi Lam (Suwa) had fallen ill after dining at the school’s hostel kitchen while 52 Gopeng Matriculation College students suffered food poisoning after eating at the college’s cafeteria.
Some 53 students at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) also became sick after having their meals at the institution’s dining hall in the same month.
In April, about 63 people from SM Sains Tapah had food poisoning after a meal at its school’s hostel.
Dr Juita also said Section 32B notices have been issued to 34 operators for breaching the Food Hygiene Regulations 2009, whereby seven were from boarding school kitchens and 27 from schools.
“The operators involved can go to any district health office to pay the RM1,000 compound within 30 days.
“Failure to do so could see them getting fined RM10,000 or jailed or both,” she said.
Of the 34 notices served, Dr Juita said 14 involved workers that did not receive typhoid vaccine injections, 11 for workers that did not get food handling training and nine for not wearing clean clothing when handling food.
Dr Juita also said between January 1 and Oct 12, there have been 51 food poisoning episodes, involving 1,411 cases reported in the state.
“Of the number of episodes, 39 had involved schools with 1,015 cases.
“There have been 10 episodes in Kinta while Hilir Perak and Kuala Kangsar both have six episodes each,” she said.
“In August, there were 15 food poisoning outbreaks and nine in May,” she added.
Dr Juita said all canteen and kitchen operators were advised to ensure their premises are clean at all times.
“They need to make it a habit to gauge the cleanliness of their premises and ensure the premises are free from rats, cockroaches and flies.
“If any of these pests are prevalent, they should consult pest control companies.
“They also need to ensure the water supply used for preparing food and cleaning are from a safe source that’s free from bacteria and other pollutants,” she said.
“We will continue with our operations at all districts to ensure the canteens will not cause any more food poisoning incidents,” she added.