SINGAPORE: The licences of 132 food outlets were suspended last year for poor hygiene, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said in Parliament on Monday (May 8).
This is lower than the 137 food outlet licenses suspended in 2015 but still more than twice the 62 licenses suspended in 2013.
In response to questions by Members of Parliament Tan Wu Meng and Melvin Yong, Dr Khor said the National Environment Agency (NEA) licenses more than 37,000 food establishments including restaurants, food kiosks, caterers and food stalls within hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts to ensure that the food sold is prepared hygienically and safe for consumption.
The authority conducted more than 148,000 inspections of food premises and there were more than 3,200 instances where it took enforcement action against errant operators last year, she said.
About one-third of these were against stalls in food courts, coffee shops and canteens, according to the Senior Minister of State.
Common infringements included failing to register food handlers, selling food that is unclean and failing to keep the premises clean or free of pest infestations, she added.
In comparison, the agency conducted 136,000 inspections on food premises and took enforcement action 2,700 times in 2015.
Despite in the rise in the number of food licenses suspended due to poor hygiene in the past few years, Dr Khor said the food poisoning incidence has remained low with 0.32 per cent of food retail establishments or fewer being implicated in food poisoning outbreaks each year since 2013.
"This suggests that the systems put in place were effective deterrents against poor food hygiene practices," she said. "Nonetheless, we cannot be complacent and must continue to maintain our strict stance on food safety."
Food outlets convicted of hygiene lapses face a fine of up to S$2,000 and their licences may be suspended or cancelled.