Following a viral video painting the picture of a rat eating vegetables from the buffet counter, the canteen at Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah (HTAR) in Klang, Selangor – which was ordered to close on Friday – has resumed operations that same night.

The 32-second clip, which was widely shared online, has no clear indication of the exact location and time of recording.

Unhygienic conditions could lead to infectious and vector-borne diseases

HTAR director Dr Ding Lay Ming stated that the hospital management took this allegation very seriously and had taken proactive measures to address the situation.

“The canteen undergoes periodic inspection on its cleanliness and safety. People can post and claim anything these days. It is still a question mark whether the video was really taken here and when it happened. But we decided to immediately direct the operator to do a cleaning,” asserted Dr Ding.

The same canteen had previously been shut down before – in 2005 and 2015 – for two weeks respectively, due to hygiene matters.

Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Selangor Health Department performed checks and found the hygiene level satisfactory. In addition, the cafeteria also complied with the stipulated conditions.

“The ministry takes the issue of food hygiene and safety at all canteens, restaurants and food stalls seriously. Pests and unhygienic environment can lead to infectious and vector-borne diseases, such as leptospirosis, food poisoning and typhoid,” emphasised Noor Hisham.

Thousands of food premises ordered to close over five years

Noor Hisham said pest control work is one of the focuses under the Planned Preventive Maintenance (PPM) in the Hospital Support Services privatisation programme.

The appointed concessionaire will conduct pest and rodent control works through PPM and routine inspection. He said this would include setting up baits or rat traps or removal of breeding grounds. “Failing to do so, will result in deductions in fee for non-compliance,” he warned.

Canteen operators should uphold cleanliness and conduct pest control activities at point of source, stressed Noor Hisham. He added that the Health Ministry – through its Food Safety and Quality Division – had inspected 635,439 food premises nationwide from year 2012 to 2016.

He elaborated, “Of that, 15,731 food premises were ordered to close down under Section 11 of the Food Act 1983 due to unhygienic environment and the presence of rats. Besides that, 24,266 compounds were issued against food operators who failed to comply with the food hygiene requirements.”

Noor Hisham cautioned that action would be taken against food outlets that did not comply with the necessary conditions. This could include being slapped with a closure notice under Section 11 of the Food Act and compounds issued under the Food Hygiene Regulations 2009. MIMS

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