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Parliament Q&A

Written reply by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources to Parliamentary Question on misleading food labelling on 6 Jan 2020

TOPICS: Food

Question by Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what is the number of misleading food labels detected in the past three years; (b) what actions have been taken against the respective food manufacturers or importers; (c) what is the percentage of food products that the Singapore Food Agency conducts random checks on each year; and (d) what more can the Ministry do to ensure products comply with food labelling requirements.

 

Answer:   

 

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) conducts regular food safety inspections to ensure that food sold in Singapore complies with our food safety standards and requirements. On average, 60,000 of such inspections are carried out in a year.

 

2       As part of SFA’s inspection regime, SFA also carries out random sampling and laboratory testing of pre-packed food for sale in Singapore to ensure that they are accurately labelled with the name of food, ingredients, net content and source. This information is important for tracing and recall, in the event of food safety concerns such as food contamination and allergens. Proper food labelling also helps consumers make informed food choices at the point of purchase. Food manufacturers and traders must ensure that the naming of food products adhere to food labelling requirements. Companies that do not comply will be subjected to enforcement action.

 

3       Over the past three years, SFA has detected a total of 260 cases involving misleading food labels from its regular inspections and investigations into public feedback on possible mislabelling. Enforcement action taken against offenders include the issuance of warning letters and composition fines.

 

4       To promote the understanding of food labelling requirements, SFA has worked with our polytechnics to provide courses and consultancy on food labelling to the industry and public. For example, SFA has collaborated with Singapore Polytechnic on the “WSQ Follow Good Food Labelling Practices” course, which the industry and members of the public can attend. In addition, SFA conducts outreach programmes on food labelling in partnership with industry associations, such as the Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association. Information on food labels is also available via SFA’s website.

 

5       The assurance of food safety and quality is a joint responsibility. While SFA will continue to be vigilant and ensure that regulatory measures are in place and properly enforced, the industry is responsible for adhering to food labelling requirements, and consumers should exercise discretion when choosing food products based on the information provided on the label. Members of public who have queries on food labels may also contact the relevant companies for more information.

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