The number of eateries the Malaysian Health Ministry (MOH) was compelled to close in the past two years reflected a poor awareness among Malaysians on food safety and hygiene.
“A total of 8,210 compounds were issued to food premises operators for offences committed under the Food Hygiene Regulations 2009,” said MOH director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
The situation shows no sign of improving.
Up till March this year, 645 of the 28,026 food premises inspected were ordered to close.
Already, 3,418 compounds have been issued for various offences.
A circular issued by the ministry on Food Hygiene Regulations 2009, which was fully enforced from January 2014, stated 33 compoundable offences for food operators.
They range from licensing to the transportation of meat, cooked food and raw fruits as well as vegetables.
Maximum penalties include fines not exceeding RM10,000 or not more than two years’ jail, or both.
Continual public patronage is the reason why dirty eateries thrive, said MPSJ Corporate and Strategic Management Department deputy director Muhammad Azli Miswan.
He cited an example of an eatery in USJ 10, Subang Jaya, which had been issued with 30 compounds but continued to run on full house daily.
“People who care about their health should give dirty eateries a wide berth.
“But in Malaysia, a dirty food stall or restaurant is not a deterrent to customers,” he observed.
It does not help that Malaysians have a “forgiving” and tolerant nature towards dirty food handlers.