F&B operators in Malaysia are having nightmares these days, ever since a video of employees of a popular Indian banana leaf restaurant washing their utensils in roadside potholes behind the restaurant went viral.
Since then, various eateries were inspected and closed down for non compliance with Food Hygiene regulations. That enforcement was lax under the previous administration is no excuse. Under the vigilant eyes of the informed public, continued non compliance will only invite reputational disaster and ruin to F&B outlets.
Surprisingly, the most common oversight is the failure to register food premises with the Ministry of Health.
Registration of Food Premise
Regulation 3 of the Food Hygiene Regulations 2009 (“FHR 2009”) provides that no person shall use any food premises specified in the First Schedule for the purposes of, or in connection with the preparation, preservation, packaging, storage, conveyance, distribution or sale of any food or the relabeling, reprocessing or reconditioning of any food except where the premises is registered under FHR 2009.
Any person who fails to comply with the Regulation 3 of FHR 2009 commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding RM10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years.
Nonetheless, by virtue of Section 33 of the Food Act 1983 and Regulation 58 of the FHR 2009, the Deputy Director General of Health (Public Health) of the MOH (“Director”) or any authorized officer authorized by the Director may, with the consent in writing of the Public Prosecutor, compound any offence (including Regulation 3 of the FHR 2009) committed by any person by making a written offer to the person and by collecting from the person an amount of money not exceeding 50% of the amount of maximum fine for the offence committed. If an offence has been compounded, no prosecution shall thereafter be instituted after that in respect of the offence against the person to whom the offer to compound was made.
Other food hygiene regulations F&B operators commonly run foul include the following:
General duties of proprietor, owner or occupier of food premises
Regulation 11 of FHR 2009 states:
(1) A proprietor, owner or occupier of food premises shall:-
(a) ensure that his food premises complies with all requirements of Chapters 2 and 3 of this Part;
(b) not employ or allow any food handler to work in his food premises unless the food handler has undergone a food handlers training and has been medically examined and vaccinated by a registered medical practitioner as required under regulations 30 and 31 respectively;
(c) maintain and be made available for inspection a record of the training, medical examination and vaccination certificate of every food handler employed by him or working in his food premises; and
(d) maintain and be made available for inspection all records pertaining to cleaning, packaging, processing, storing and distributing of food.
(2) Any proprietor, owner, occupier of food premises who fails to comply with subregulation (1) commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
Cleanliness, Hygiene And Pest Control
Under FHR 2009, the other requirements for food premises include:
Regulation 15 – Cleanliness of food premises
(1) Food premises shall be maintained at all times in a good, clean and tidy condition.
(2) Food premises shall be free from any accumulation of boxes, tin, empty bottles, rubbish or any other article not connected with the business of the food premises to prevent the entrance and harbourage of pest.
(3) The cleaning of food premises shall be carried out at least once daily and includes the removal of food residues and dirt, whenever necessary.
(4) There shall be provided an adequate facilities for the cleaning, disinfecting and storing of appliances used in food premises and such facilities shall be constructed from corrosion resistant materials and easily cleaned and, where necessary, have an adequate supply of hot and cold potable water.
(5) There shall be provided and made available at all times an adequate supply of suitable cleaning agents, disinfectant and tools to enable regular and proper cleaning of a food premises and all appliances used in the food premises.
(6) Every cleaning agent and disinfectant used in the food premises shall be adequately labeled and not to be stored in areas where food is stored or handled.
(7) The Director or an officer authorized by him may, for the purposes of maintaining the cleanliness of food premises, require any proprietor, owner or occupier of food premises to make any structural alteration, repair, renovation, plumbing or drainage work in the premises within such time as may be specified by the Director or an officer authorized by him.
Regulation 16 – Pest control in food premises
(1) A proprietor, owner or occupier of food premises shall, at all times, keep the food premises free from any pest.
(2) A proprietor, owner or occupier of food premises shall, on becoming aware of the presence of any pest in the premises, forthwith take all practicable measures to destroy the pest and to prevent reinfestation.
(3) A pest control treatment shall only be carried out by using a suitable chemical, physical or biological agent and without posing a threat to the safety of food.
Regulation 17 – Disposal of refuse
(1) All food waste, non edible by-products and other refuse shall be:-
(a) removed from any room where food is present as soon as possible to avoid their accumulation;
(b) deposited in closable containers or other types of containers of an appropriate construction and kept in a good condition, easily cleaned and where necessary, disinfected; and
(c) eliminated in a hygienic and environmentally friendly way in accordance with the relevant law applicable to that effect, and is not to constitute a direct or indirect source of contamination.
(2) There shall be adequate provision for the storage and disposal of food waste, non edible by-products and other refuse.
(3) All food waste, non edible by-products and other refuse stores shall be designed and managed in such a way as to enable them to be kept clean and, where necessary, free of animals and pests.
F&B operators will do well to pay heed to the health and safety of consumers and comply with all relevant food laws of Malaysia under the expert guidance of lawyers and qualified advisers. This is the only way to ensure the sustainability of their food business.