SINGAPORE – Singapore Food Agency (SFA), the country’s national authority entrusted with the mission to ensure a resilient supply of food safety and food security from farm-to-fork,  is seeking feedback from the food industry, as well as interested parties, for its proposed amendments to the Food Regulations, which obliterates a majority of the standards of identity currently contained in Regulations 39 to 260 of the Food Regulations, save where they have to be retained in the interest of food safety or to support public health-related policies.

A list of the proposed standards of identity to be retained or deleted is provided in Annex I of the proposal.

The amendments aim to promote trade and encourage food innovation in Singapore, while continuing to standardize and control the quality of all food products. As the food industry innovates to produce variations of a product, having to conform to a fixed standard of identity would stifle their efforts at innovation.

The consultation period is open until 20 August 2021.

Standards of identity in the Food Regulations were developed during the 1970s to early 1990s to ensure that food products conform to a certain standard of identity and minimum quality, thereby helping to ensure fair trade.

Some of these standards were developed prior to the development of related international standards like those of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, as well as the Singapore Standards which have since been established.

Once the changes take effect, food products imported, manufactured and supplied in Singapore must continue adhering to the standards of identity that are retained in the updated Food Regulations.

For current standards that have been erased, industry players may refer to the Singapore Standards or other international standards such as those stipulated by the Codex Alimentarius Commission for guidance.

The SFA accentuates that the proposed deletion of the standards of identity does not compromise food safety as all food products that are imported, manufactured or sold in Singapore must still adhere to the relevant food safety and product labelling regulations that remain in place.

However, it envisages that the proposed deletion of the standards of identity may probably cause confusion as to the applicability of certain food additive regulations to particular food products.

In light of this, the agency has announced plans to develop a new system for categorizing food based on the Codex General Standard for Food Additives (CODEX STAN 192-1995) to accompany the deletion of the standards of identity.

This new food category system will specify different categories of food products and describe the types of food falling under each category, thus making it easier for the food industry to determine the types of food additives that may or may not be added to particular food products.

The proposed changes are expected to come into force in April 2022.