SINGAPORE – As a further step to protect consumers from public health risks, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has banned with immediate effect the use of freshwater fish in all ready-to-eat (RTE) raw fish dishes sold by retail food establishments.
Tests conducted by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and NEA found such fish to have significantly higher bacterial contamination than saltwater fish, and are likely to present higher risks of infection when consumed raw.
In a statement, the NEA said the ban would help protect consumers and give greater peace of mind to the public, especially during the upcoming Chinese New Year season when consumption of raw fish in yusheng dishes is expected to increase.
All retail food establishments that wish to sell RTE raw fish dishes, such as yusheng dishes, are to use only saltwater fish intended for raw consumption.
By this, NEA is referring to fish that are typically bred or harvested from cleaner waters, and stored and distributed according to appropriate cold chain management practices.
NEA said these fish must also be handled hygienically throughout the supply chain and kept separate from other fish intended for cooking, to avoid cross contamination.
Most fish sold at Singapore’s wet markets, the fresh produce section of supermarkets, and fishery ports do not meet these conditions, and should not be eaten raw.
NEA will be issuing notices to retail food establishments to inform them of the ban on the use of freshwater fish for RTE raw fish dishes.
Food stalls (hawker centres, coffeeshops, canteens, food courts) and food establishments providing catering services are required to stop the sale of all RTE raw fish dishes using saltwater fish until they can comply with the practices required for RTE raw fish dishes.
To help fish suppliers and retail food establishments understand the requirements for sale of fish intended for raw consumption, AVA and NEA will conduct engagement sessions over the next few weeks. – BERNAMA