ST Forum writer says Singapore should stop selling fried rice

By May 16, 2018Current

TL;DR – She might be right.

There has been quite a bit of talk lately about fried rice and how some heat-resistant bacteria was found in a dish of fried rice that led to a bout food poisoning in a school canteen back in 2017.

A yummy-looking plate of fried rice via that is not the said contaminated one

Straits Times Forum writer Ms Amy Loh Chee Seen must have been following the case and hence proposes that Singapore removes fried rice from cooked food stalls’ menus.

She explains that because of Bacillus cereus, the bacteria notorious for “fried rice syndrome” ,  people may get food poisoning due to its toxins in cooked rice.

People who get food poisoning from the bacteria are sometimes unaware of the cause for their symptoms as the toxins are undetectable through smell, taste or colour

To her, the advice given by the Ministry of Health (MOH) against such food poisoning appears impractical for small-scale kitchens and to prevent further outbreaks, she proposes that MOH  recommend that fried rice be removed from the menus of all cooked food caterers and suppliers preparing food en masse in small kitchens.

The letter has since been shared over 935 times on Facebook and received more than 450 comments, with most expressing their disagreement:

To be honest, when I first read the headline and caption on the Straits Times’s Facebook page, I too had my doubts about her proposition. However, after reading the letter thoroughly and doing a quick search on Google,

It seems that Ms Loh might have a point after all.

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According to Cathy Moir, a food microbiologist with Food Science Australia, if you’re not going to eat rice straight after you’ve cooked it, then you need to store it in the fridge – as soon as possible and in fact, refrigeration won’t kill the bacteria. It will also slow down its growth. You can read this link and this FAQ by the UK National Health Service for more info.

So Ms Loh’s suggestion for time-strapped cooked food caterers and suppliers preparing food in small kitchens to remove this dish might actually be a good thing. But if you ask me, fried rice or not, we still have a very long way to go when it comes to food hygiene and handling in Singapore.

What do you think?


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Flora Isabelle Lim

Author Flora Isabelle Lim

On a constant quest to be a really professional internet person.

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Amy Loh says:

    This is an extremely belated comment from me the Amy Loh Chee Seen in question. Thanks for your remarks which apparently nobody wants to know. I find it extremely interesting that people who like to respond to STForum letters don’t bother to read and understand them or the reports referred to in the letters before making disparaging responses containing personal attacks that reveal how low their abilities to comprehend basic English are. So sad. My whole point was that the Ministry of Health gives advice that our regular Ah Em or Ah Pek caterers can’t follow because it’s so impractical in their situations. Just read it in the original report! How to follow! So, food poisoning from that dish is going to keep recurring but probably on such a small scale nobody notices until another bunch of kids or elderly get sick, hospitalised, or somebody dies! Better to recommend it be taken off the menu of those stalls that won’t be able to implement the MOH advice. But for restaurants or outlets with bigger kitchen spaces and fridges, by all means sell it! No problem. By the way, my original letter with reference to the impractical MOH advice got that part edited out and a highly misleading title stuck on before publication. I subsequently protested to the editor and was assured readers will always respond negatively as they just don’t read the whole letter or the report that had triggered the letter in the first place.

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