In an investigative piece today, Sinar Harian reported on the existence of several “rogue” ice factories in the Klang Valley that use waste water to produce ice cubes and ice slabs.
Besides using obviously filthy water unfit for human consumption, the ice is manufactured in extremely unhygienic surroundings as well.
According to the report, one factory that allegedly “recycled” waste water into ice, even channelled this water to the ice-producing machine via pipes that had moss growing on the inside.
It was learned that waste water was preferred as it was already in a cold state and hence froze faster.
This short cut also invariably translated into more products in a shorter time span, and higher profits for the manufacturers.
And the horror does not stop there. If the sight of stray animals scavenging around in the ice processing area at some factories was not enough to make you gag, how about ice cubes stored on rusty trays?
The report said the toilets at these premises were also in a filthy state, and pools of stagnant water in other parts of the factory due to clogged drainage systems only made the manufacture of ice cubes and ice slabs all the more unhygienic.
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (lower left, not exactly as shown), chairman of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), writes that media reports on cases of food poisoning in Malaysia, especially involving students, seem to be on the rise lately.
NIOSH views the matter seriously and would like to urge everyone involved, including the relevant authorities, school administrators, owners of eateries, caterers, food handlers and parents to take appropriate steps to prevent food contamination from becoming a serious health threat.
We do not want to see a repeat of the recent food poisoning case in Batu Gajah, Perak which claimed one life and left several others needing hospital care.
Less than a month after the incident in Batu Gajah, where victims consumed pesticide-contaminated food bought at a stall there, another food poisoning episode took place at Sekolah Menengah Sains Tapah in Perak. In this incident, 43 students and a teacher fell sick after eating roti jala with chicken curry at the hostel. It was later found that the chicken used in the curry was contaminated by salmonella bacteria.
It was the second case of food poisoning reported in the school in the past three years. In October 2013, more than 270 students suffered food poisoning from a chicken dish served at the school’s dining hall.
Students must be protected from not only accidents and crime within the school compound but they should also have access to safe and hygienic food in the canteen or dining hall.
As for food outlets and restaurants, the owners must ensure that people whom they hire must be qualified and practise hygienic and safe food preparation and handling.
In the wake of the recent food poisoning incidents, there should be close monitoring on food preparation and handling as well as frequent checks on eateries and school canteens throughout the country.
In Malaysia, roadside food stalls are mushrooming and frequented by the public who seem to be unsure whether these stall owners have certificates from the Health Ministry or permits from local authorities.
Furthermore, many restaurants, cafes and outlets at food courts today hire foreigners to cook and prepare food.
Tan believes that random checks and on-the-spot compound issued by the ministry and local authorities will help improve the cleanliness of the eateries and ensure safe and hygienic food preparation and handling.
The Health Ministry has to conduct more frequent inspections at all eateries as compared to the current practice of once a year, or when there are food poisoning cases or customer complaints. Local authorities also have to step up their inspection at eateries in their jurisdiction and focus on the roadside stalls to weed out the unlicensed ones.
As for primary school pupils, teachers and parents have to teach them food safety and how to spot spoiled food by using senses like sight, smell and taste.
School administrators or parent-teacher associations have to ensure that sinks in school canteens are properly maintained and soap is provided for the students to clean their hands before and after meals. Consumers have to be conscious of food safety and avoid dirty eateries.
How would consumers know? Foodborne organisms that cause illness cannot be seen. Carrots and sticks, shock and shame, rather than just military-like intervention. Go for full restaurant inspection disclosure.
TAPAH, 4 April — Seramai 44 orang pelajar asrama dan seorang guru di Sekolah Menengah Sains Tapah mengalami keracunan makanan selepas makan di dewan asrama sekolah, Sabtu malam. Seramai 32 orang pelajar menerima rawatan di Hospital Tapah, 11 orang lagi di bilik rawatan sekolah manakala seorang sudah dibenarkan keluar wad. –fotoBERNAMA (2016) HAK CIPTA TERPELIHARA
State Health director Datuk Dr Juita Ghazalie said the ‘Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point’ test done showed that the chickens were not properly stored, allowing the bacteria to breed.
“The chicken meat was not kept at – 6 degree Celsius temperature for 32 hours before being cooked. “During that period, salmonella bacteria could grow exponentially and cause food poisoning,” she said. She also said that the 30-minute cooking time was also too short to kill the bacteria in the two trays of chicken. Juita said 25 students were still being treated at Tapah Hospital.
On Sunday, 43 students and a teacher from the school were rushed to hospital for food poisoning. They had a bout of diarrhoea and vomiting after they ate roti jala and chicken curry for supper at the school’s dining hall the night before.
In the same way that dying cancer patients in the UK are being held responsible for telling their doctors to wash their damn hands, Malaysian schoolchildren are being told they are the critical-controlpoint for school meals.
for parents and teachers to learn and teach students on food safety, especially on how to spot spoiled food that may cause food poisoning. This includes using your senses (sight, smell and taste) to determine whether the food is still good to be eaten.
“We should avoid food that has a slimy appearance, foul smell or tastes stale. These simple steps are easy to practise and must be taught to students.”
Department director Datuk Dr Narimah Nor Yahya said Ops Premis Makanan was launched as part of efforts to address the disease.
“To date, our task force has inspected 160 premises in Kuala Lumpur and 10 were shut down for failing inspection guidelines as outlined by the Food Act 1983 and Food Act 2009,” she said.
Speaking during a surprise inspection of a popular hawker centre in Kampung Baru, Dr Narimah appealed to the public to be mindful of where they eat.
Workers at the hawker centre were seen scrambling to clear mounds of dirty dishes and hurriedly washing the floor of their kitchen areas.
Two stalls were served with closure notices for failing to meet spection standards.
Blood samples and contact details of all foreign workers employed at the centre were also collected.
She said it was unacceptable for ice cubes to be stored in dirty open containers and for workers to use their bare hands to handle ice.
“Look at the flies buzzing around the raw meat. This place is definitely getting closed,” she said of one eatery, adding that if any workers were not vaccinated for typhoid, charges would be brought against the employer.
“It is mandatory for restaurant or hawker centre operators to have all their workers vaccinated,” she said.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, three state exco members and 30 senior tourism officials from Asean countries attending a meeting here suffered severe food poisoning after a seafood meal at a fishing village in Umbai (my fish don’t make anyone sick; always use a thermometer).
The minister and the foreign delegates were in Malacca for the second high-level task force and 18th senior officials meeting cum 13th Asean socio-cultural community council from March 23 to March 27.
They became ill after a dinner at the village hosted by the state government on March 24.
They complained of acute stomach ache, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and nausea after consuming seafood dishes from the food arcade at the village.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said a medical team was rushed to the hotel where the delegates were staying after many of them came down with food poisoning after the meal.