It is almost the holy month of Ramadan and bazaars would soon be in operation!
Keen entrepreneurs will be glad to know that permits to run a stall at the bazaar are now available.
For those of you who wish to apply for a permit, you must ensure that you have taken the typhoid vaccine.
No permit will be given to those who failed to get vaccinated against typhoid fever.
The requirement for typhoid vaccination for all food handlers falls under the Food Hygiene Regulations 2009.1
According to Mr Ruba Sundaram Muthusamy, Principal Assistant Director, Food Safety and Quality Division (FSQD), Ministry of Health (MOH) Malaysia, spot checks are done on a daily basis throughout the period of the Ramadan bazaar operations.
Failure to get the typhoid vaccine is a compoundable offence of up to RM5000.1
Is Typhoid Fever Dangerous?
According to Dr Mohd Hanif bin Zailani, Public Health Specialist and Head of Vaccine Preventable Diseases/ Food and Vector Borne Diseases Sector, Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health Malaysia, typhoid fever is a life-threatening infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi transmitted commonly through the consumption of contaminated food or beverages.
He said, “The symptoms don’t occur right away. It usually develops 1 or 2 weeks after a person becomes infected.”
“High fever, weakness, stomach pain, constipation or diarrhoea, and sometimes a rash that consists of flat, small, rose-coloured spots, are the symptoms associated with typhoid fever.”
“In severe cases, typhoid fever can cause typhoid intestinal perforation, gastrointestinal bleeding, inflammation of the liver, gallbladder, heart and brain, pneumonia and even death.”
“This is why the timely and accurate diagnosis of typhoid is necessary to prevent severe outcomes of this disease,” he stressed.
Your Responsibility to the Community as a Food Handler
“As a food handler, you play a crucial role in preventing the spread of typhoid fever.” Explained Mr Ruba from FSQD MOH Malaysia.
“It is your responsibility to handle food safely to prevent contamination and the spread of food and water-borne diseases like typhoid fever.”
“This disease is transmitted commonly through the consumption of food or beverages contaminated with the faeces of those who have typhoid fever.”
“It is important to note that some individuals can be a carrier but show no symptoms.”
“This means they can unknowingly spread this disease!”
“Typhoid fever is highly contagious and could cause outbreaks therefore prevention is very important.”
“This can be done through improved sanitation, safe handling of food and beverages as well as the typhoid vaccination.”
“The injectable typhoid vaccination ideally should be taken at least 2 weeks before you open your stall so that it is effective in preventing the infection and spread of typhoid fever.”
“As the immunity you get from the typhoid vaccination decreases with time, you are required to get a booster every 2 years for the injectable vaccine.”
“Due to the lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, most food handlers are already due for their typhoid vaccine booster by now.”
“So, be sure to schedule your vaccination as soon as you can.”
The typhoid vaccination is available at most private clinics and hospitals, as well as at some local municipal councils. You may enquire at your local municipal councils for more information.
Practical Tips for Bazaar Stall Operators
According to Dr Hanif, there have been food and water-borne diseases such as food poisoning occurring at the Ramadhan bazaar.
“One incident of food poisoning caused by contaminated ‘puding buih’ occurred in Terengganu in 2020, involving 99 cases and 1 death.”
“Food handlers at the Bazaar stalls must follow the food and beverage safe practices to minimise the risk of food contamination.” This was further emphasised by Mr Ruba.
“Use clean clothes, headcovers and light-coloured aprons with no pockets.”
“Do not use jewellery as it can prevent effective handwashing and it can also collect bacteria that will contaminate food.”
“Gloves, if worn, must be replaced after using the toilet, smoking, coughing, sneezing, and in between preparing raw and cooked foods or if it is torn.”
“Do not smoke during preparation and handling of food.”
“Be sure to have a cleaning schedule so that you clean your premise throughout the period of operations without fail.”
“Lastly, ensure that only those who have attended the Food Handlers Training from institutions approved by Ministry of Health and vaccinated against typhoid fever are allowed to prepare the food at your stall.”
A Customer’s Health and Safety is Always a Priority
Dr Hj Suhazeli Abdullah, General Practitioner and Family Medicine Specialist weighs in on contracting a disease like typhoid during Ramadan.
He said, “In addition to the negative health effects, typhoid fever could also be a major inconvenience during the holy month of Ramadan causing yourself or others to miss one or more days of fasting due to illness.”
“Choosing not to take the vaccine knowing that it is mandatory for food handlers is dishonest and not something a Muslim should do especially during Ramadan.”
“In the Quran, it stated in Surah Al Baqarah, verse 195, “..and do not throw yourselves into destruction, and do good. Truly, Allāh loves Al‑Muḥsinūn (the good‑doers).”
“There is also a hadith reported by Abu Sa’id al-Khudri RA that the Prophet SAW said, “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm” (narrated by Ibn Majah).”
“As good muslims, we must do what is right for us and the community”, he concluded.
All food handlers must be aware and recognise the importance of your role in preventing the spread of food and water-borne diseases such as Typhoid fever.
While customer satisfaction is what you would strive for, the health and safety of your customer must be of utmost importance.
We wish you a safe and healthy Ramadan.
1. Typhoid vaccine requirement http://fsq.moh.gov.my/v6/xs/page.php?id=73