Singapore issues guidelines for online food orders to assist with industry best practices 

SINGAPORE – Singapore has introduced a series of voluntary regulations pertaining to food purchased online.

Singapore Standard 687: 2022 (Guidelines for food e-commerce) outlines the roles and obligations of e-commerce participants to assure the safety of food goods sold on online marketplaces.

Singapore has experienced a recent surge in online food purchases with about 2.5 million people using the services in 2021, a 14 percent increase compared to 2020.

At present, several food e-commerce and delivery platforms follow diverse procedures when it comes to the transparency, traceability, and safety of the food products they sell.

By putting the standard into practice, the industry may obtain clarity regarding the standardization of the data to be shown at points of sale and delivery, as well as ownership of handling possible issues including customer complaints, food safety events, and recalls.

The document also intends to enhance the experience of end users by enhancing the reliability and dependability of food e-commerce platforms and by enticing participants in the e-commerce supply chain to exercise due diligence by correctly implementing food safety practices as part of their operations.

According to Grace Fu, Minister of Sustainability and the Environment, organizations, e-commerce sites, and food delivery services can learn more about the best practices for food safety at various points along the supply chain.

For example, she noted, the standard provides guidance on the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, as well as their responsibilities in food traceability and recalls. 

“The standard also aims to improve the online ordering experience for end consumers. When implemented, consumers will have access to more details on the food products they are purchasing online and be empowered to make more informed decisions.

“I encourage you to adopt the practices outlined and hold one another to high food safety standards. Some of the industry leaders — foodpanda, Amazon, and Lazada — will be sharing how they will implement the guidelines in their companies,” she said.

Fu said e-commerce and delivery companies are playing an increasingly significant role in the food supply chain, reports Food Safety News.

“While consumers shopping at a physical store can check on the condition of the food and find out important details via the label before purchase, this is not always possible when buying food online. 

“E-commerce consumers have to rely on the product information provided by the e-commerce platform, which can vary significantly depending on the level of oversight the e-commerce platform has on its suppliers,” she said.

Singapore is the first country to develop such a comprehensive set of voluntary guidelines, and hence the standard could be utilized by other authorities to help inform best practices for the industry.”

The Singapore Manufacturing Federation, Food Industry Asia, Singapore Food Agency, local food e-commerce and delivery platforms, supermarkets, and other industry participants made up the working group that created the voluntary standard, which took 16 months to formulate.

“The publication and adoption of this standard would elevate industry standards and guide food business operators to achieve better transparency, traceability, and accountability when selling food online. 

“Additionally, consumers would be empowered to make better-informed purchase decisions by buying from businesses that have implemented these practices and have greater food safety assurance,” said Tan Lee Kim, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore Food Agency.

The norm, according to Matt Kovac, CEO of Food Industry Asia, demonstrates Singapore’s response to an increase in consumer use of food e-commerce.

“It will provide food business operators with a practical set of voluntary e-commerce guidelines that can be applied to enhance current processes in order to ensure food safety whilst importantly not stifling innovation.

Singapore is the first country to develop such a comprehensive set of voluntary guidelines, and hence the standard could be utilized by other authorities to help inform best practices for the industry,” he said.

Fu added that Singapore was also participating in the development of international standards for food sold through e-commerce, as part of the Codex Committee on food labeling.

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