HEALTH WARNING: BECAREFUL OF WHAT YOU EAT AT MIXED VEGGIES STALL

My 72 yr old mum is currently working in a chain vegetable rice stall. She is still fit and healthy. She would rather work than stay at home. Every quarterly, the government even gives her some cash money credited to her POSB bank and CPF accounts. She belongs to a group of senior citizens who like to work even though the children give her monthly allowances to spend. She feels useful and independent working hard to earn some money.

After working for some time in one of the vegetable rice stalls – a chain of vegetable rice stalls all over the island owned by the same company, she found out lots of things happening behind the scene. Whenever I chat with her, she would provide me with details of the food preparation process, the number of staff running a typical stall, their nationalities, daily takings etc. In short, she gave me lots of insider information about her work there.

Basically, a typical vegetable stall in a HDB coffee shop is manned by 3 persons. The main player will be the cook who is the in-charge of the food stall. He is assisted by one staff in the morning and another in the afternoon until it closes for the day. Understandably, the in-charge works extra hard with the longest hours operating from about 8am till 9pm catering to the lunch and dinner customers. On top of their basic pay, they are also given incentive payment if collection exceeds the target. There are CCTV cameras all over the stall to monitor them. The boss hardly comes over except to collect the day’s takings. The cash register captures all transactions. The in-charge of the stall is usually a FT from neighboring countries and recently many from PRC. Few locals could undertake such a demanding job churning out simple meals at dirt cheap prices.

Due to time constraint with only one assistant, the in-charge who does the cooking of more than 20 dishes has got to be fast and energetic. As such, he is forced to take short cuts and cut corners. This is what is happening in the food preparation. For example, the vegetable is never washed at all. One method is to boil a big pot of water and dump the unwashed vegetable to half-cook it. Thereafter, it’s then stir fried to taste. I do not worry about dirt and slime on the stalks and leaves of the vegetables. I am more perturbed by the tons of insecticide residue on them. Just look at the beautiful green leaves where even worms would not feast. Surely it must be the insecticide that is keeping away the worms chewing on it. If it is not thoroughly washed and eaten by unsuspecting consumers, what would happen? Wonder no more why city folks like us are getting all kinds of illnesses especially colon cancer. Think of what I just sketched for your imagination. It is no joke and witnessed by my mum working there. As such, she always advises us not to consume green vegetable in a cooked stall except the bean sprouts where they got no choice but to wash them to clear the uneatable husks of the green sprouts. (tuagai)

Just to side track a little. When I was in Ipoh visiting the local eatery, I notice that the leaves of the vegetable are always punctured with holes and they don’t look appealing. When I commented about them comparing to those in Singapore that they are unattractive. The locals in Ipoh gave me an invaluable lesson telling me that it’s becuz tons of insecticide is sprayed on the vegetable that even worms avoid. In their case, no insecticide is used making it worm friendly. Which is more healthier in the long run? I was told that no matter how much you wash your insecticide laced greens, the chemicals will never go away completely. In the case of the typical food stall quoted above, it’s far worst than that.

Of course, the other option is to cook your own vegetable at home. But then that is not always possible due to our long hours of work, we simply do not have the luxury. As a last resort, maybe the organic vegetable which is far more expensive will be a much healthier choice since it is not grown in the soil and no insecticide is needed to keep away the worms.

I have elaborated on the no-washing of the vegetable in a typical food stall. What about the manner of preparation for other food such as chicken wings, meat, fish etc. Yup, they simply throw into the hot boiling oil in the wok and deep fry them. Rice is never washed at all before it’s put in the rice cooker to steam. Another observation made by my mum is that all those ingredients and condiments such as salt, oil, sugar, black or light soy sauce kept in small containers meant for cooking are all left overnight without any lids to secure them. Lizards, rats, cockroaches having a big party throughout the night and then they are used in the cooking the next day for our own consumption. Frightening? Flabbergasted? That is why my mum brings her own food to work even though free meals are provided. She would keep far away from those cooked food cuz she knows how they are prepared.

When I wonder why NEA is not taking enforcement action? Maybe, they just look at the appearance of the stall, the dressing of the staff, ensure that there is no rat running around and no cockroaches flying about and they deem to have done their job. Some time ago, I did blog about how drinks such as coffee or tea are prepared by hawkers with pictures taken but there seems to be no action taken. Pls refer to the the article here. Link

From my observation, only those Malay stalls seem more hygienic than the Chinese or Indian food stalls. I have yet to come across Malay stalls out-sourced to FTs. The Malay stalls are usually run by locals. That is why Malay food usually costs more than Chinese food. I would rather pay more for Malay cooked food than those Chinese cooked food which is comparatively cheaper. Just be more observant and look out for yourself the next time you consume your food in a hawker centre or coffee shop. Watch what you eat.

Read related article here link.

 

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22 Comments

Did the author of this

Did the author of this article based his comments on a series of observations throughout Singapore or did the author observed only 1 stall? The point that I cannot contemplate is how did the author derived his opinion on and did the author paid any observations to Malay stalls?

It's quite ludicrous to stereotype all Chinese and Indian stalls while trying to portrait the Malay stalls as hygenic...........

Is the author of this article

Is the author of this article seriously complaining that hawker stalls don't serve organic vegetables?

Now that you "reported" this

Now that you "reported" this Im sure NEA will check up on the "chain of" economical food stores... I know for sure FT are that all clean but not 100% of them at every stall.. That does not only applies in coffee shops but ALL f&b outlets. And at the back of house ypu cant see the nationality of the person preparing your meals right? How sure are you that Malay stalls dont hire FT? Only Singapore has malays isit?

Hi there,

Hi there,

Thank you for the article, which is very informative. However, why are you insinuating that locals have higher standards of hygiene than foreign workers?

'From my observation, only those Malay stalls seem more hygienic than the Chinese or Indian food stalls. I have yet to come across Malay stalls out-sourced to FTs. The Malay stalls are usually run by locals.'

Blogging about this is

Blogging about this is infomative but y not go to New paper or Chinese papers? Let more people learn about this, increase publicity, then nea and the hawkers will be forced to act.

It's quite old news. No

It's quite old news. No washing of vegetables, all stalls are the same be it foreign or local runs as it's due either high operating cost or short of staff. The worst is using almost 100% flour, fried till golden colour, passed off as those fish fillet sell consumers!!! Profitting to the max.....!

This sort of practices are

This sort of practices are happening not only at low cost food stalls, but also happening at lots of established restaurants / hotels all over Asia.

If not the insecticide then it's the chemicals/artificial flavoring/coloring/preservatives that the chefs adds and/or come already in the raw ingredients. No win at all!

then why didn't your mom

then why didn't your mom helped to salvage the situation?

This is a bullshit article,

This is a bullshit article, if I have ever read one. Everything in it is conjecture and hearsay.

Also, the whole point about whether to wash vegetables and meat or not before cooking is not so simple. It is in fact the recommendation of health professionals NOT to wash meat before cooking. It does not reduce disease, but in fact spreads germs onto other surfaces around the kitchen where they might be more easily ingested. Also, vegetables sold here are safe to eat without washing. Any insecticide residue remaining is harmless to humans. You can still wash them if you want, but insecticide is not the reason for that.

So, bullshit facts, bullshit science, bullshit all the way. Typical low-class Singaporean anti-immigrant bullshit rant.

Also if you notice, if you

Also if you notice, if you order mee soto or mee rebus from malay stalls, they would blanch the noodles in boiling water to remove dirt, oil, Residue and other stuff before putting on the gravy.

upport what u said sat malay

upport what u said sat malay are more hygienic or kore honest in terms of dealing with business. Cz they have a halal guideline to handle and run their business. Dats y they have halal signs all over nt becoz they dont serves pork. Its more than dat. They r more honest and humanely. They r not like chinese keeps thinking ripping every single cent without thinking others health

I honestly think that now you

I honestly think that now you're just being racist. Regardless of malay or chinese stalls, i strongly believe that whatever race/ religion food stalls have the bad ones and the good ones.

One year ago, I found a big

One year ago, I found a big fat worm in my noodles in a restaurant near upper Thomson Rd. I called NEA. Guess what? The store seems to have received a tip off from NEA and immediately closed the store for washing for a day. NEA only went to check them out a day after they are done washing. It seems like things are not that 'white/pure' in our NEA afterall.

What hv u confirmed to come

What hv u confirmed to come to yr conclusion tt nea is corrupt? What is the usual official procedure for calls such as yours? Extent of evidence given? Evidence of food poisoning? Did the procedure in yours differ from the official procedure?

is the author really

is the author really complaining that NEA didn't take follow-up actions after he/she "blogged" about certain things? FWAH, i'd be pissed if NEA officers do nothing but surfing around online to look for random feedback from random folks who treat their own words as the truth.

Malay cooking is more ex in

Malay cooking is more ex in prices.
I know that Malay food are mostly with coconut milk or Rempah base.
I know that their fried chicken or fish are added to the curry. That could be stale meat maybe a day or much longer. Veg whether wash or not .. Just added to the on-going pot of lontong curry.
What proof have we that Malay cooking is better.

and what prove do we have

and what prove do we have that Chinese and Indian cookings are better?

please read the article as a whole. dont scrutinize on a simi sai side point of the article only. it is about pesticides for goodness' sake!

On the new Soto/rebus comment

On the new Soto/rebus comment..the noodles are blanched to half cook and reheat before serving..just fyi..if not noodles will be tough when eaten with gravy..

Funny. Malay or Indian food

Funny. Malay or Indian food always looks more unhygienic to me than Chinese food.

Examples:
Malays & Indians use their bare hands to prepare and serve food
I have witnessed Indians with plaster on their fingers flipping prata
It is very common for any human being to use their hands to wipe their face and touch God-knows-what. Therefore, it will also be common for them to wipe their sweat or touch germ-infested table tops before serving you the food?

And also, Chinese food are usually kept on heaters
Malay food is always left out in the cold
Though I don't think it really affects the hygiene. But at least the food tastes better and not cold and stale...

It is a big sin in Islam for

It is a big sin in Islam for food sellers to disregard hygiene and they're held accountable if patrons are harmed by their food. Majority of the Malays in Singapore are Muslims however, there may be a small percentage of Muslims who are lax in this. Another thing to remember, not all Malay food stalls are Muslim-operated and not all Muslim food stalls are Malay-operated (eg: halal Zi Char).

Author may need to brush up on less biased writing. The conclusion does not link well with the objective. Also, I'm dying to know how to qualify a senior citizen for receiving allowance from the government. My mother is clearly missing out on this.

Hi there are you trying to

Hi there are you trying to create a racial stir in foods too? Why do you cook up a story like this? Just bcos your mum gave you the information on 1 or 2 shops that doesn't mean that the entire community will do the same.. Tell me from now onwards will you be avoiding the other two races food for life.. bull shit.. Plse think carefully before you pin down your unworthy words to people..Dont give them false information..

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