SINGAPORE: All Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shops that prepare or sell food and drinks within their premises will need to have a license from the National Environment Agency (NEA).
In a media release on Thursday (Jan 25), it said if food preparation activities are not done hygienically, they can “pose risks to public health” including food poisoning.
It added that there have not been “major incidents” linked to food or drinks from TCM shops.
From Mar 1, new TCM premises intending to prepare food and drinks such as herbal tea and tea-leaf eggs, will have to apply for the license, NEA said.
“These onsite food/drinks preparation areas are to comply with the design and infrastructural requirements as stipulated in the Code of Practice for Environmental Health (COPEH) for food retail.”
The agency added that food handlers would also have to attend and pass the Basic Food Hygiene Course, which equips them with the knowledge to handle and prepare food safely and hygienically.
Existing TCM outlets have until Mar 1, 2019 to apply for the license if they intend to continue with onsite food and drinks preparation. Currently there are more than 300 TCM shops that have such food preparation areas within their premises, NEA said.
TCM shops will have to meet basic requirements such as having a piped water inlet and waste water outlet within the preparation area. COPEH requirements for existing TCM shops “could be waived on a case by case basis” until the premises undergo major renovations, added NEA.
Outlets that do not prepare food or drinks onsite, or have decided not to continue doing so, will not be required to apply for the license.
NEA added that it had engaged the Singapore Chinese Druggist Association and TCM shops on the proposal to license the onsite food preparation with the aim to “strengthen food hygiene standards”.
NEA said it has also reviewed feedback and suggestions from the industry such as offering existing premises a longer compliance timeline and aligning the licensing requirements to be comparable to shops with similar set-ups such as bubble tea outlets.