Forum: Mess left behind by diners is a health hazard

Unreturned trays seen at Teck Ghee Market on Aug 10, 2020.
Unreturned trays seen at Teck Ghee Market on Aug 10, 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

I agree with Dr Yik Keng Yeong that education and persuasion are excellent tools to effect social change (Tray returns: Use persuasion to bring about behavioural change, Sept 25).

However, as far as the tray return culture is concerned, it is clear that years of public education and campaigns, as well as considerable funds spent on various initiatives, have done little to bring about change.

Many hawker centres islandwide continue to be plagued by mess and food leftovers left behind by irresponsible patrons who are apathetic about the consequences of such behaviour.

Not only are our favourite food haunts infested with pigeons and other pests, it is also not uncommon to see droppings on the tables and floor after the birds have fed on the food leftovers.

Pigeon droppings are known to contain the fungus that causes cryptococcal meningitis. Bacteria E. coli and salmonella, which can cause severe food poisoning, have also been found in various types of bird droppings.

Hence, Dr Yik's view that the act of not returning trays is merely a trivial antisocial behaviour that poses no health hazard is inaccurate.

We must not trivialise or ignore the associated health risks involved when trays are not returned. All patrons in food establishments have a right to have their meals in a clean and hygienic environment.

Ang Tun Loon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2020, with the headline 'Mess left behind by diners is a health hazard'. Print Edition | Subscribe