The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has issued a public advisory, urging institutions and individuals to verify valid food hygiene permits before engaging in catering services. Failure to do so, the FDA cautioned, could compromise the quality and safety of food sold by unlicensed establishments.
In a statement addressed to the public and institutions, the FDA emphasized its inability to guarantee the quality and safety of operations in unlicensed food service establishments. The statement underscored the importance of engaging only licensed caterers and canteens to ensure compliance with food safety standards.
The FDA urged canteens and caterers without food hygiene permits to promptly regularize their activities by applying for permits and subjecting their facilities to food safety inspections. Compliance with this requirement, the statement stressed, would help uphold public health standards and ensure the provision of safe food to consumers.
Quoting Section 130 (1) of the Public Health Act 2012 (Act 851), the FDA emphasized that operating a food service establishment without a valid food hygiene permit constitutes a violation of the law. The Act prohibits the manufacture, sale, supply, or storage of regulated food products in premises not registered for that purpose.
Defined as any operation involved in storing, preparing, packaging, serving, vending, or providing food for human consumption, food service establishments encompass a wide range of facilities including restaurants, bakeries, canteens, online food businesses, institutional caterers, chop bars, and fast-food services.
The FDA specifically called on canteens in schools, hospitals, and corporate institutions to ensure their food service facilities are inspected and licensed by the FDA. The statement warned that unlicensed food service establishments failing to acquire food hygiene permits by February 29, 2024, would face regulatory sanctions, potentially including facility closure, fines, and criminal prosecutions.
Encouraging public vigilance, the FDA urged individuals to look out for food hygiene permits displayed at facilities and report any establishments operating without permits to the FDA. This proactive approach, the FDA affirmed, is crucial in upholding food safety standards and protecting public health.