PETALING JAYA: Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad today said the number of food poisoning cases in Malaysia went up by 24% last year when compared to 2017.
This included food poisoning cases in national schools, he added.
Dzulkefly said there were 496 cases last year, compared with 401 cases in 2017.
Dzulkefly added that till May this year another 213 cases had been reported, including 68 at government schools and 26 at private schools.
Another 19 cases were reported from institutions, 55 from individual homes and 45 from other various places.
“The ministry looks at this seriously. This shows our safety and cleanliness level should not be looked at lightly any more,” he said in his speech at the World Food Safety Day here today.
Later, he told reporters that the ministry wants to ensure every level of food production is hygienic.
This would be done by conducting more food hygiene programmes for food handlers.
Asked further if the increase in the number of food poisoning cases was due to a lack of education, infrequent checks, dirty habits, lack of manpower or if enforcement officers dealing with food operators were involved in graft, the minister said these matters were constantly being monitored and reviewed.
“There are many factors. In the supply chain, there are many sources of infection,” said Dzulkefly.
The ministry’s food quality and safety director Mihd Salim Dulati said all national schools have been asked to carry out their own checks, based on the ministry’s checklist.
“This is working,” he said, adding that studies showed most of the food poisoning were due to poor food handling.
Other than food poisoning, 36 deaths due to toxic alcohol poisoning were also reported last year.