(Originally published on SFA Facebook)
Meet Poh Zan Xi, whose job is all about making sure your fruits and vegetables are safe to eat!
Stationed at SFA’s southwest regional office at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre (PPWC), he is part of a team that inspects imported fruits and vegetables.
Read on to find out what this Chemistry graduate does as an inspector and the tools he uses at work.
MASTER OF ALL TRADES
Although Zan Xi mainly inspects imported fruits and vegetables, he is cross trained in other areas too.
He has gone on meat inspections as well as food hygiene inspections of various hawker centres in southwestern Singapore.
“It’s interesting to be exposed to other food types, and a different job scope. Checking for hygiene lapses of hawker stalls is quite different from inspecting fruits and vegetables.”
There’s also the paperwork where he prepares materials for prosecution (mainly illegal imports) and crunches data for analysis.
TOOL#3 - AFFABILITY
Inspectors are expected to put on a stern and no-nonsense front. But being affable helps break the ice.
“Although it sounds like an oxymoron, I believe we can be firm and personable at the same time. When importers or distributors get to know us better and understand why we do the things we do, they will feel ‘paiseh’ and do things right the next round.
In addition, when they need help or have constructive feedback, they know they can turn to us.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
Imported fruits and vegetables often arrive at PPWC or at importers’ premises in the early morning. Hence, Zan Xi is busiest when the rest of Singapore is fast asleep.
On days when there are surprise inspections arising from tip-offs, Zan Xi and his team mates only pack up to go home when the sun rises.
Despite the odd hours, Zan Xi likes that his role is not entirely desk-bound and involves some on-the-ground work.
“I like walking around and talking to importers and distributors, and even the uncle cutting vegetables at PPWC. Doing this will help you better understand ground sentiments.”
TOOL#4 - LINGUISTIC SKILLS
In order to be heard and understood, Zan Xi finds it useful to speak a smattering of languages and dialects.
Three years into his job, he has picked up Malay and a few dialects.
“Lorry drivers from across the causeway speak Malay, while workers at PPWC speak a ‘rojak’ of languages and dialects.
But if you listen carefully, you can hear other things at PPWC too - the slicing of vegetables, scraping of vegetable crates, and of course, the blare of a horn from a forklift carrying fruits.”
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© 2020 Singapore Food Agency
Last updated on Tuesday, April 14, 2020