Home-based food businesses allowed to operate during Ramadhan

Traders have to adhere to food hygiene and safety practices prescribed by the MoH

By HARIZAH KAMEL / Pic TMR

HOME-BASED food entrepreneurs are now allowed to run their businesses throughout Ramadhan as the country continues to observe the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Malaysian Federation of Hawkers and Petty Traders Associations president Datuk Seri Rosli Sulaiman said the traders would have to adhere to food hygiene and safety practices prescribed by the Health Ministry (MoH), while all food handlers are required to receive typhoid vaccine injection.

“Cleanliness is very important because when food is prepared every day at home, a lot of problems can occur such as a dirty environment that can lead to food contamination or the neighbours complaining of foul smell.

“We advise home-based food businesses to improve and maintain their cleanliness and comply with guidelines by MoH,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently.

Now that many food enterprises have to operate from home and move to online orders and cash-on-deliveries, MoH has provided specific food safety guidelines for food products marketed online per the MCO.

The guidelines can be downloaded on MoH’s official website of food safety and quality division.

According to MoH, online marketing covers all categories of food whether they are available in restaurants, kiosks, cafes, home-based kitchens, factories or for sale in markets, supermarkets or farms.

Consequently, all parties need to understand and take precautions in ensuring that food purchased or marketed online meets food safety requirements.

Rosli reiterated that there is no restriction for home-based food enterprises to sell food to earn their livelihood as they are among those hit hardest by the MCO.

He said the shutdown of the annual Ramadhan bazaars has made it difficult for some to heed to the concept of e-hailing services and online platforms as it may be their first time using it.

“But once they are familiar with the concept, they can learn and gain more from it, moving forward. We can save a lot when we know how to use e-hailing. We save on travel costs, parking fees, time and avoid queues and traffic,” he said.

One of the problems home-based food businesses face is the fact that some deliveries are halted due to the MCO roadblocks.

Rosli said people are bound to face the same problem due to the pandemic, but everyone must always be cautious.

He said all parties need to know their responsibilities. Sellers must make sure to serve quality food, while customers should know the type of food they want and place their orders early.

A home-based seller who only wants to be known as Lee said she operates her small food business at home depending on the MCO phase, as each phase has different rules.

“I follow the MCO guidelines such as I buy my ingredients at the nearest market from my house. For deliveries, I do use food runners, but I won’t take orders that are more than 10km,” she told TMR.

Lee said during Ramadhan, her menu includes nasi lemak, nasi ambang, nasi ayam, nasi ayam penyet and mee rebus with a side of cheesekut for dessert.

She said following the MoH food safety guidelines is crucial in preparing quality food because she also depends on her customer’s positive feedback on her dishes.

For now, the MCO does not overwhelm her as she can still carry on with her business which she promotes using WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.

“It’s quite good enough for me because I can still earn money to survive.

“Maybe they (the authorities) should be relaxed to the food runners when they are doing their job because they do need to make multiple deliveries on time,” she added.