Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Educating on Ensuring Hygiene and Preventing Spread of COVID-19
Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment what is being done to educate food stall owners and customers on the precautions that can be taken to ensure hygiene and prevent the spread of COVID-19 while still allowing customers to bring their own reusable containers.
There is currently no evidence of COVID-19 transmission via food items or their receptacles. Nevertheless, to minimise the spread of COVID-19, all food establishments, food handlers and customers should observe good personal hygiene, comply with safe distancing and safe management measures, and undertake joint responsibility to ensure a clean environment for the preparation and consumption of food.
To this end, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Singapore Food Agency (SFA) have issued joint advisories and stepped up engagement efforts with all food establishments, including hawker centres and hawker stalls, on the importance of cleanliness to safeguard public health and ensure food safety for consumers. This includes the need for the wearing of masks properly at all times.
The SG Clean movement was also launched in February 2020 to rally Singaporeans to keep Singapore clean. As part of the movement, NEA and SFA introduced sanitation and hygiene checklists for hawker centres and stalls, which highlight key practices to safeguard hygiene and reduce contamination risks. These practices include regular cleaning of premises and sanitisation of food preparation surfaces, utensils and cooking equipment, and not handling ready-to-eat food with bare hands. Food establishments that adhere to the requirements in the checklists are awarded the SG Clean Quality Mark, which provides assurance to customers on the measures taken to minimise the spread of COVID-19. To date, more than 23,000 food establishments have been awarded the SG Clean Quality Mark.
At the same time, customers also play their part in ensuring a clean environment and in minimising the spread of COVID-19. Their reusable containers should be properly cleaned when taking away food and drinks. If they are dining at the food establishments, including hawker centres and coffee shops, they should also return their trays after eating, and properly dispose their litter.