Food Catering and Hygiene

A Singapore food caterer that has been licensed by the NEA (National Environment Agency) will be the first guarantee that you are going to get a catering provider that has hygiene practices in place when preparing food. When you are holding an event that requires catering food for others, you definitely want to ensure your guests are served food that are safe and handled properly. Here is a guide to help you:

Choosing a caterer in Singapore

Other than the things needed to know before hiring a caterer, how would you know if a caterer in Singapore has been licensed by the NEA? The NEA’s website has a very helpful page that gives you a list of licensees – This list will give you a list of Food Caterers and their track records. The track records will show the following:

  • Licensee Name
  • License Number
  • Premise Address
  • Grade
  • Demerit Points in the Past 1 year
  • Suspension History

Here is the list for November –

So when you find a caterer in Singapore online, be sure to check their track record on this list!

Ordering rules

Do not order too much – Control food waste. As much as you can, order an amount of food that is just right for the number of guests with a little buffer for extras. In case it is excessive, discard leftover food to avoid them going bad and causing food poisoning. If you do not want to waste food and would like to pack them home, please talk to caterer for safety and storage instructions.

Avoid raw food – To be on the safe side, do not order uncooked food like sashimi or raw seafood that are to be cooked on-premise in case you have elderly guests, pregnant women or children. If you must have raw food, ensure they are quickly refrigerated upon delivery and stored below 5 degrees celsius.


Food must be delivered at most 1 hour before the serving time. They should also be delivered in insulated containers or coolers to maintain the ideal temperature. If there is no equipment provided by the caterer to store the food, do not consume them later than the time limit provided by the caterer – this means food prepared by the caterer must come with the following information:

  • The date and time the food was cooked
  • The consume-by date and time

Surely, we do not want the same issues faced over the food given to migrant workers. Both preparation time and consume-by time are compulsory information that all licensed food caterers must readily provide customers. This ruling took effect on 15 Feb 2012.

Server hygiene

As the food is delivered, they should be arranged neatly on the catering table with the following rules:

  • Cooked and raw foods should be kept in separate sections with their own set of cutlery and utensils
  • All chafing dishes and food containers are thoroughly cleaned before food has been placed in them
  • All cutlery, utensils, tongs, ladles and serving spoons are thoroughly cleaned before being rough out for use
  • All dishes should be covered and temperatures kept above 60 degrees celsius before serving time.
  • Cold food should be kept on ice
  • Ensure all timestamps are displayed prominently
  • If the event will run long, only display a few dishes at a time, with the rest kept in food warmers.
  • If there are catering staff serving you food, ensure they are wearing gloves and using tongs.

Consumer hygiene

It will be great if all your guests will be punctual, but that is seldom the case. If you know of anyone coming in late, then perhaps keep aside some food in food containers to keep them safe. Here are other tips for consumers:

  • Before the caterers arrive, ensure the premises is cleaned thoroughly
  • Of course, wash your hands thoroughly before eating!
  • Consume food before the “Consume-by Time”
  • Do not use your hands to handle food, use available cutlery, utensils, tongs and ladles.
  • Do not cough or sneeze into the food.
  • Pay attention to the colour, smell, texture and taste of the food you are consuming. If you suspect something is wrong, stop and ask the caterer for advice.