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How should food centre patrons handle food debris?

A TODAY reader wrote in to Voices this week to urge the authorities to educate patrons of food centres not to spit their meat and fish bones as well as food waste onto tables as Singapore fights the Covid-19 disease. This prompted many other readers to weigh in.

How should food centre patrons handle food debris?

A TODAY reader wrote in to Voices this week to urge the authorities to educate patrons of food centres not to spit their meat and fish bones as well as food waste onto tables as Singapore fights the Covid-19 disease. This prompted many other readers to weigh in, with some lamenting that Singaporeans’ personal food hygiene habits leave much to be desired, while others offer suggestions on how to deal with the issue.

It’s everywhere, especially fish head dishes and food with skin, bones and shells. The poor aunties and uncles have to clear the stuff with all the saliva. Maybe stallholders should provide another small bowl for the bones. LOY HJON

Agree! Just get an extra bowl or plate from the store to throw the bones, fats and food waste into. Save the cleaner time and effort to clean and more hygienic for everyone. And better experience for next customers like you and me. TAN SIEW HOON

Tan Siew Hoon, Just put them on your own plate. You don’t need to ask for more plates for the bones. It saves a lot of time for the cleaners and it’s more hygienic. I just don’t understand these kind of bad habits that we Asians have. Is it the way we are being brought up or the culture? WENDY CHIN

It is easier said than done. Not everyone would be so responsible to practise good hygiene. I am always against those people who blow their noses after eating and throw their disgusting tissues into the bowls and plates. The hawkers cannot provide extra bowls to everyone due to costs. I suggest that every individual carries a reusable container for this use and disposes of the waste in a proper bin, then washes it and uses again. (People may be thinking why not a plastic bag, light and can easily be placed in a handbag or carrier but we are also fighting hard against climate change.) LINDA CHOW

Nowadays I bring my own stainless steel cutlery and just wrap them in a Ziploc bag after use. Then wash when soap and water are available. Better safe than sorry. TERRY CHEONG

If hawkers can provide small plastic bags to throw unwanted food or bones in after eating. That will be better than customers using tissue paper and putting it in the bowl after eating. ERVIL YIDAL YUDE

Some stall owners will not give you an extra bowl or plate. I usually use a folded paper box to throw away the fish bones. I reuse the flyers that are handed out to me and fold them into boxes. LENA EVANGELINE TAN

For a start, make the hawkers wear some sort of saliva catchers. These hawkers are taking orders all the time while preparing your food. Surely some saliva could have dropped onto the food before handing it over to you. HUANCHIANG LEE

Place it on a plate, a spoon or a tray; and let them wash (not just wipe). Spitting on the table looks very much like animals' eating habits. Sorry if I offend anyone but it’s true. We need to improve our practices. ZEYAR LIN AUNG

If people are spitting like that, then during this Dorscon Orange level period, only allow takeaways. Ban eating at the hawker centres. MOHAMAD SYAHID ARIF

We should educate our people to spit them into tissues and then wrap them properly. Just as importantly, wash our hands properly before and after eating. LIEW PATRICK

Liew Patrick, pull the meat apart with your cultery and then just put the meat into your mouth. The bones remain in the plate or bowl. JEFFREY CONRAD

Spitting on the table (the bones and whatever else that comes out of their mouth), placing their legs on the stools or seats, blowing their nose at the table, cutting their nails — these are all part of the Singapore “food” culture. While all the above habits are not acceptable, we cannot do much. Just have to order food (via delivery services) or bring home and eat in the comfort of our home. STEWART SANJAY

Good hygiene practice develops at home and when children are young. SOOK-CHING LAM

Old habits die hard. I have often witnessed people spitting even on staircases, carparks, and worst of all, blowing their noses in public as they walk or even when driving (unwind window). Try telling them and see what reaction you will receive.  I hope the National Environment Agency can start a campaign to aggressively urge patrons of food centres to leave a "clean" table after the meal for the next occupier, like in Japan. We are living in a fast-paced city where some hawker centres are our main source of meals. If everyone takes one small step, we have a more beautiful country. KOH SHERRILYN

Maybe let's start a movement... Using recycled magazines to make bone bowls to encourage recycling and staying hygienic. BERNARD LOW

These comments were first posted on TODAY’s Facebook page. They have been edited for clarity, accuracy and length.

Related topics

hawker centre public hygiene food food waste NEA

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