90% or 9 in 10 Bangladeshi workers in Singapore, who mainly work in construction, say that the food they get from their employer’s caterers is usually unhygienic and insufficient for their needs. This finding stems from a survey conducted with 500 Bangladeshi migrant workers, which was led by a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

“In our research we thought salary disputes was the main thing they faced, but through talking to the workers it turned out that food was a bigger problem,” says Professor Mohan J. Dutta, director of the Center for Culture-Centred Approach to Research and Evaluation (Care). He was speaking at a media conference on Thursday to present his findings.

“That food can be so integral to health can be something so simple but easily overlooked.”

A month-long awareness campaign by NUS was also launched on Thursday to highlight the problems with hygiene standards and other food issues that the migrant construction workers face. A television commercial, bus and MRT ads, and even a 10 minute documentary will feature in this campaign.

A problem that the research team found was that unscrupulous employers, possibly in a bid to save costs, did not adhere to clear regulations by the authorities to only store food for certain periods and label the food accurately. The team found that the food provided to many migrant workers were instead left unlabeled. It would have been impossible to know if the food had gone bad.

“Workers mentioned falling sick from eating the food,” he said, adding that many workers reported food meant for lunch being prepared by companies 12 hours earlier.

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