Written reply by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, to Parliamentary Question on SG Clean Guidelines for Hawkers, on 26 March 2020
Ms Joan Pereira: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources as part of the SG Clean campaign, whether the Ministry will provide a set of guidelines and encourage our hawkers to refrain from practices that cause contamination risks.
1 All hawkers are licensed by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and are required to comply with licensing conditions and regulatory requirements. These include maintaining and cleaning their stalls regularly, and having proper infrastructure in place to safely prepare, handle and sell food. Hawkers and their assistants who handle food must also pass the Basic Food Hygiene Course, which equips them with relevant food safety and hygiene knowledge, including proper food handling and good personal hygiene practices. SFA conducts regular inspections to ensure that the regulations are adhered to.
2 The National Environment Agency (NEA) also encourages best practices for the cleaning of hawker centres, such as the use of two separate cloths for table cleaning, as well as sanitising and soaking of cleaning cloths in household bleach at the correct concentration according to manufacturer’s instructions. Following the SARS episode in 2003, NEA has also instituted quarterly “spring cleaning” for all hawker centres, where hawkers are required to clean up their stalls and the centre is closed for thorough cleaning, such as high pressure jet-wash of the whole centre and cleaning of hard-to-reach surfaces.
3 When COVID-19 cases were first detected in Singapore, NEA and SFA issued joint advisories and stepped up engagement efforts to food establishments, including hawker centres and hawker stalls, to ramp up cleaning efforts and safeguard public health. Last month, the national SG Clean campaign was launched to rally all Singaporeans to keep Singapore clean. As part of the campaign, NEA and SFA introduced sanitation and hygiene checklists for hawker centres and stalls which highlight key practices to safeguard hygiene and reduce contamination risks. Practices include regular cleaning of premises, especially frequent touch points or heavily soiled areas, and sanitisation of food preparation surfaces, utensils and cooking equipment. Hawker centres and stalls that adhere to the checklists will be awarded the “SG Clean” quality mark. To date, 19 hawker centres and 1 in 5 hawker stalls have been certified “SG Clean”. We will audit all hawker centres and stalls for the “SG Clean” quality mark standards by this year.
4 Every Singaporean must also play our part to keep Singapore clean in our battle against COVID-19. As individuals, we should continue to practise good personal hygiene and responsibility like frequent handwashing and temperature monitoring. As a community, we need to exercise social responsibility and collectively keep our premises clean and pest-free to reduce the spread of diseases and viruses. I encourage all Singaporeans to practise the “7 Habits of Good Public Hygiene”:
- Keep premises clean and pest-free;
- Return trays and keep table clean;
- Keep toilet clean and dry;
- Wash hands regularly with soap;
- Take temperature and see doctor if unwell;
- Use tissues when sneezing or coughing; and
- Bin litter and soiled tissue.