JOHOR BARU: Johoreans are urging the relevant authorities to take proactive measures and regulate home-based food businesses to prevent untoward incidents.
They said this group must apply for a licence to operate and get the necessary vaccinations, like typhoid injection.
Housewife Kamariah Ahmad, 56, said home-based food operators must be made to register their business if they want to offer their products to customers.
She said the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) from March 18, following the Covid-19 pandemic, had led to a surge in demand for online food deliveries.
“Hygiene should not be compromised when it comes to preparing food for sale either at homes, hawker centres, roadside stalls or even restaurants, ’’ said Kamariah.
She said the local councils should make it mandatory for the home-based food operators to get typhoid injections as a requirement before issuing licences to them.
Kamariah said the majority of customers who ordered food online were taking chances as they could not see if their orders were prepared in a clean and hygienic manner.
“Local councils should come down hard on roadside hawkers as some of them do not observe cleanliness. Some operate from dirty sites, ’ she said.
Sales assistant Rufi Rahmat, 34, said consumers have a choice when buying food and must learn to be discerning.
“We can order online from home-based food operators or patronise the eateries. We just have to ensure the food served or delivered is safe to eat.”
He said the proposal to regulate home-based food businesses, including having them register and possess a valid licence issued by the local council was a move in the right direction.
“Most home-based food operators are housewives or those doing it to complement their household income on a full-time or part-time basis, ’’ said Rufi.
He said having the businesses registered would make it easier for the relevant authorities to trace and take action against them if the food they prepared caused problems, for instance, food poisoning.
“I normally order from my regular home-based food operators and also upon recommendation from friends, ’’ said Rufi.
Marketing executive Stephanie Wong, 25, said the home-based food operators should not only think of making profit at the expense of consumers.
She said they should label their food that should be consumed within certain hours after being prepared to avoid contamination.
“In Singapore, they must get a licence in order to operate, ’’ added Wong.
She said those who sell contaminated food or found preparing them in unhygienic conditions should be penalised.
“The local authorities and health department enforcement unit could visit these home-based food operators to check if they are following regulations, ” said Wong.
Johor health and enviroment commmittee chairman R. Vidyanathan said the existing laws did not require home-based food operators to register their businesses and have a licence to operate.
He said, however, that they were encouraged to register with the Food Safety Information System of Malaysia (FoSIM) under the Health Ministry at http://fosimdomestic.moh.gov.my
“Registration is free and if there are plans to regulate home-based food operators in the future, it will assist the ministry to come out with the regulations, ’’ said Vidyanathan.
The people in Johor are proposing these measures after it was reported that 25-year-old woman, a victim of the pudding buih food poisoning case in Terengganu,
died on June 3 at the Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital after she was admitted to the hospital on May 4.
A total of 99 people were treated at the hospital and other health facilities for diarrhoea, vomiting and fever after consuming pudding buih which they bought online.
The victims were from 20 families, comprising 77 from Kuala Terengganu and 22 from Marang.
Terengganu local government, housing, health and environment committee chairman Dr Alias Razak said the food poisoning was caused by the use of expired eggs.
He said the state government would conduct a detailed study on the standard operating procedure (SOP) for small-scale food traders operating from home to prevent such occurrences in the future.
“We have asked the health authorities to provide an SOP for home-based food traders so as to help them generate some income, and at the same time ensure the safety of food that is sold, ” he said.