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.
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.
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?