29 April 2024

On 21 March 2024, the Singapore Food Agency (“SFA”) published two consultation papers on provisions in a draft Food Safety and Security Bill (“Bill”) relating to defined food and pre-market approval and the provision of non-packaged drinking water. The Bill will consolidate food-related legislation from eight existing Acts and introduce new powers to strengthen Singapore’s food safety and security regime to better protect consumers and safeguard Singapore’s food supply resilience.

A series of public consultations will be launched progressively based on the following themes: (1) defined food and pre-market approval, (2) provision of non-packaged drinking water, (3) strengthening resilience of food supply,
(4) certain agri-food production inputs (animal feed and pesticides), (5) import, export, and transhipment, and (6) food businesses.

These two consultations are the first and second in the series of public consultations and concern only the “defined food and pre-market approval” and “provision of non-packaged drinking water”. The consultations close on 14 May 2024 and 20 May 2024 respectively.

Consultation on defined food and pre-market approval

The Bill will define a category of foods (“defined food”) for which SFA has enhanced regulatory interest, and which needs to meet additional regulatory requirements for its import or sale in Singapore.

SFA proposes that “defined food” is food that:

  • is, consists of, or has as an ingredient, a novel food in respect of which no pre-market approval is granted;
  • is, consists of or has as an ingredient, a genetically modified (“GM”) food in respect of which no pre-market approval is granted; or
  • is, consists of or has as an ingredient, in any form (whether whole or in parts and whether fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, smoked, salted or in brine, or as flour), an insect-like species which is not a catalogued insect-like species.

The proposed provisions for defined food in the Bill are intended to formalise the responsibility of novel food and GM food companies to submit applications for pre-market approval prior to the sale of defined foods in Singapore. This will help to provide legal clarity to companies. SFA will also continue existing initiatives to engage with novel food and GM food companies to ensure that the companies’ safety assessments are robust and protect consumer health.

Consultation on provision of non-packaged drinking water

Currently, under the Environmental Public Health Act 1987 (“EPHA”), SFA regulates the quality of non-packaged drinking water (e.g. piped drinking water) supplied by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and other water providers.

Under Part 9 of EPHA, water providers are required to ensure that non-packaged drinking water provided in the course of business, is wholesome, and suitable for drinking. In addition, water providers are required to comply with prescribed duties (e.g. relating to sampling and testing of water, etc.) to minimise the likelihood of non-packaged drinking water being unwholesome.

SFA’s Director-General of Food Administration (“DGFA”) may also, by notice, require water providers to stop the provision of non-packaged drinking water, if the DGFA is of the opinion that any water provider has contravened the prescribed requirements.

Under the proposed provisions:

  • Drinking water will refer to water that is intended for human consumption or for purposes connected with human consumption (e.g. food preparation).
  • There are two key terms relating to the regulation of non-packaged drinking water (“drinking water”) - “drinking water producer” and “drinking water service”:
    • “Drinking water producer” would include any person (an entity or individual) who carries out drinking water production in the course of business.
    • “Drinking water service” means a service that involves drinking water production and supplying water by means of a reticulation system or in bulk, to any person.

The provisions will apply to drinking water producers who provide a drinking water service.

  • Aligned with the existing regime, drinking water producers and those providing drinking water service would be required to ensure that the drinking water supplied in the course of business is wholesome.

To safeguard public health, in the event of an incident involving unwholesome drinking water, the DGFA would be empowered to issue a direction to (1) a proprietor of food business, (2) a drinking water producer providing drinking water service, (3) a person who supplies drinking water that is obtained from PUB or another drinking water producer, or (4) a person who has a duty to manage common property comprising network infrastructure for distribution of drinking water. Such directions may include a requirement to stop the service and take remedial action to rectify the issue. A person who fails to comply with these directions would be liable to enforcement action.

Reference materials

The following materials are available on the REACH website www.reach.gov.sg: