KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Food traders who use nails, staples or other similarly dangerous materials to secure food packaging can be charged in court, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
He said any trader convicted of the offence could be fined not more than RM10,000 or jailed not more than two years or both under Regulation 36 under the Food Hygiene Regulations 2009.
Besides, Dr Noor Hisham added that a heavier punishment could be imposed if the materials were found in the food.
“Section 13 of the Food Act 1983 states that any person who prepares or sells any food that has in or upon it any substance which is injurious to health commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding RM100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both,” he said in a statement today.
He said the Ministry of Health (MOH) had taken note of the use of nails to secure food packaging as had gone viral on social media recently as well as the views of various parties concerned about the dangers of such packaging methods.
According to Dr Noor Hisham, there were other safer methods of packaging food, instead of using nails, staples or other materials that could cause serious injuries if they were accidentally consumed.
“At the same time, the public, especially parents, are advised to check the food given to their children before consumption,” he said.
He added that Regulation 37 (2) of the Food Regulations 1985, states that no person shall keep, carry, spread or use any toxic, noxious or harmful substance so as to expose them to the risk of contamination by such substances.
In addition, Regulation 36 of the Food Hygiene Regulations 2009 states that food handlers must ensure that the food packaging is free from any contamination, including materials such as nails that could harm customers or consumers.
According to Dr Noor Hisham, the Food Safety and Quality Division analysed 546 food samples from 2019 to 2021 and, of the total, 19 were found contaminated with physical materials, such as stones, plastics, sand, hair, insects and worms.
Enforcement actions were taken against the food operators and traders involved under the Food Act 1983 and other relevant regulations, he said.
Apart from that, 45,351 eateries were inspected nationwide last year and, of the total, 697 or 1.5 per cent were closed for various offences.
Consumers can contact the state health departments or district health offices or browse through the moh.spab.gov.my or www.facebook.com/bkkmhq websites if they find any food packaging secured with nails, staples as well as regarding other issues related to food safety.
In a separate statement, Dr Noor Hisham explained the translation of “air kosong” (plain water) to “empty water” on the MOH Facebook page, which went viral yesterday, was due to a user whose mobile phone had the automatically translated feature activated (Facebook text translation).
“This caused the word ‘air kosong’ to be automatically translated to ‘empty water’ in the user’s phone,” he said.
He said screenshots of the English translations which went viral did not reflect the original posting in the Malay language.
To avoid confusion, he advised the public not to rely entirely on the automatic translation function as it did not provide accurate explanations. — Bernama