Pilot to Enhance Food Safety at Source
AVA ensures the safety of food from farm to fork. Besides conducting sampling and checks on food that arrive in Singapore, we also focus on the safety of food produced at source.
In the case of processed food (not containing meat), imports may come from any country, as long as the products meet AVA’s requirements and standards. Importers take on the shared responsibility to ensure that the products are sourced from establishments that are legally registered businesses.
Regulating High-risk Imports
High-risk processed food (e.g. infant formulas and cereals, ready-to-eat products, noodles and pasta), however, are subject to more stringent import requirements under the Regulated Source Programme (RSP) introduced in 2003.
Firstly, the RSP requires manufacturers of these high-risk products to complete a one-time submission of export documents. Secondly, these types of imports are subjected to AVA’s hold-and-test regime upon arrival in Singapore, which includes inspection, sampling, and laboratory tests for food safety. Only those that pass our laboratory tests are released for sale, while unsafe consignments are destroyed.
Import requirements are tighter for infant foods because this group of consumers have lower immunity. Ready-to-eat food products do not require cooking, which kills bacteria at high heat, thus posing a higher risk for food contamination.
Pilot Project with Malaysia to Ensure Food Safety at Source
- Infant formulas.
- Infant cereals.
- Ready-to-eat traditional cakes (kueh).
- Ready-to-eat cooked rice products and other perishable cooked food (nasi lemak, roti prata, lontong, etc.).
- Dried bean curd skins, sheets and sticks.
MOH-regulated establishments undergo regular food safety inspections and checks by the Malaysian authorities. Products within these categories that are not sourced from MOH-regulated establishments have been disallowed for import since 1 January 2014.
In addition, all MOH-regulated manufacturers that export these six categories of food to Singapore are issued an Establishment Code by AVA. Importers must declare this code in their import permit declaration, which allows AVA to trace and verify import sources.
AVA met affected importers in mid 2013 to brief them of the new import requirements and address their concerns. As of April 2014, a total of 65 MOH-regulated establishments that export these six categories of food to Singapore have been given AVA’s Establishment Codes.
Continued Surveillance for Food Safety
Notwithstanding the enhanced RSP, AVA will continue to conduct surveillance on such products for compliance with our food safety standards and requirements. Processed food products that do not fall under these six categories continue to be controlled under the current RSP.
AVA is monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the enhanced RSP before considering extending the programme to other categories of food products from Malaysia. AVA is also exploring the potential of collaborating with competent authorities from other countries to include their manufacturing establishments under this programme.