KUALA LUMPUR: The level of food contamination in eateries in the city is less than 15% based on random food samplings by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
DBKL Health and Environment Department director Dr Noor Akma Shabudin said while this was an acceptable figure, improvements must be made to increase hygiene standards.
“The presence of bacteria such as E. Coli means that the food is contaminated with faecal material,” she said.
DBKL carries out microbiological tests in eateries to check for the presence of E. coli, coliform, Staph aureus, diphtheria and Salmonella.
“It’s all about good personal hygiene. Workers need to wash their hands with soap before handling food and avoid handling food with bare hands,” she said, adding that most food samples were found to be contaminated with either E. coli or coliform.
Currently, those working in the food business must get their typhoid jabs at the DBKL Health Department as a card will be issued as proof that they have received the vaccine. The jab lasts three years.
As of May this year, the department closed 342 restaurants and issued 717 compounds to restaurant owners for violating the cleanliness guidelines.
A total of 13,937 food handlers were given typhoid jabs and 1,008 food handlers attended basic food handling courses.
“We have several units that monitor food safety and hygiene, including at the food manufacturing stage in factories,” Dr Noor Akma said.
She said basic food handling courses were also carried out in Tamil and Chinese.
“We do face language issues if the workers are foreigners. But, usually we have someone to translate.”
It was reported earlier that DBKL raids on dirty restaurants and weekly routine checks, including night inspections, would continue to ensure restaurants adhere to the cleanliness guidelines.
There were 6,841 eateries in Kuala Lumpur and each parliamentary constituency has a team of officers to carry out sanitisation and pest control vector efforts.
A once-a-year routine check is carried out on restaurants graded A and twice a year for those graded B. DBKL will also check eateries that received closure notices to re-evaluate its cleanliness level.
Meanwhile, Tenaganita director Aegile Fernandez said corrupted city council enforcement personnel should be weeded out if eateries are to be really clean.
She alleged that while there was still a lack of enforcement on the cleanliness of food outlets, the Government has to stop corruption at the local council level because food operators had complained that they have to pay as high as RM1,000 to 1,500 per month so that they are let off the hook.
Fernandez also said that all cooks and food handlers including locals, and not just foreign workers, should be made responsible for good hygiene practices.
She said that the way food is kept and prepared in restaurants is also a concern.
“Sometimes, workers leave food lying around on the floor infested with rats. That too has to be looked into,” she said.
Fernandez also said the welfare of these foreign workers was not really looked into. As a result, they are not given proper places to live in with the possibility of infection from the dirty conditions that could then spread through food handling to customers.
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