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Forum Reply: SFA, MOM investigating feedback on migrant domestic worker working for employer’s TCM business

We refer to Ng Kim Yong’s letter, “Are maids allowed to prepare food items for sale?” (27 Dec).

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) premises with ancillary preparation and sale of food and beverages, such as herbal drinks, herbal jelly, and tea-leaf eggs, need to be licensed by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

Food handlers on TCM premises involved in preparing food and beverages for sale have to be registered with SFA and are required to pass the WSQ Food Safety Course Level 1.

The licence also covers food preparation areas for TCM premises, which are required to be designed according to licensing requirements.

Under the Environmental Public Health (Food Hygiene) Regulations, except where a licensee of a catering establishment prepares food on premises appointed by a consumer for that consumer’s consumption or use, no person shall sell any food that is not cooked or prepared on licensed premises.

In addition, MDWs can only perform domestic chores for their employers at the residential address declared to MOM.

It is illegal for employers to deploy their MDWs to work for their own business, even if it is a home-based business, or at another residence.

SFA and MOM are investigating the case to ascertain if any offences have been committed.

Adeline Tan
Deputy Director, Operations
Management Department
Joint Operations Division

Grace Seah
Deputy Director, Inspection
Foreign Manpower Management Division


Are maids allowed to prepare food items for sale?, 27 Dec 2023, The Straits Times

I recently learnt that an MDW whose employer is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) physician has been preparing TCM items in her employer’s home.

The MDW was taught by her employer to cook guiling gao, a jelly-like Chinese medicine also sold as a dessert. She would cook the jelly, ladle it into plastic containers to be cooled, then seal the containers for sale in the shop. She also has to pack medicinal powder into capsules to be sold in the shop.

I understand that anyone who handles or prepares food in a Singapore Food Agency (SFA)-licensed establishment must attend the WSQ Food Safety Course.

Are TCM shops that sell items like guiling gao, bottled medicines and capsules SFA-licensed establishments?

Furthermore, the MDW was employed to do domestic chores at her employer’s home, not prepare food for sale or do regular cleaning of the shop.

Ng Kim Yong