12 June 2019
SINGAPORE: Import and Sale of Trans Fat Products Banned from June 2021
As of June 2021, it will be prohibited to import or sell foodstuffs containing partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are known to contain high levels of trans fats. The move comes as part of a government bid to eliminate trans fats, a key contributor to the onset of coronary disease, from the local food chain. Along with the import ban, local food suppliers will be legally required to ensure that their products contain no PHOs as of the same date. These new regulations are in line with a World Health Organisation initiative aimed at ending the use of trans fats on a global basis by 2023, a programme that several countries have pre-empted with their own related legislation.
In order to ensure the country’s food manufacturers, adhere to these new guidelines, the government is taking something of a carrot and stick and approach – with the carrot taking the form of financial incentives for any business looking to reformulate its products, while the stick is the promise of regular monitoring and outright bans on any producer failing to meet the required standards. Additionally, it will become compulsory for all packaged food products to come with labels bearing a full list of their ingredients.
According to the country’s Ministry of Health (MOH), the six companies that account for a 50% market share of the four food categories designated as high risk – snacks, baked goods, packaged/eady-to-eat meals and fat spreads/creamers – have committed to complying with these new requirements by June 2020, a year before they become mandatory. At present, Singapore imposes no restriction on the amount of trans fats that pre-packaged food can contain, although the level of trans fat in the fats and oils supplied to local food manufacturers or offered for sale cannot exceed 2% of the total fat content.
These new requirements need to be borne in mind by any Hong Kong company supplying food products to Singapore. It should also be noted the country’s government expects overseas food producers to absorb the cost of any reformulation and not to pass it on to local consumers.