Ban on key source of trans fats as ingredient in Singapore from June 2021

·Editorial Team
(Getty Images file photo)
(Getty Images file photo)

SINGAPORE — From June 2021, partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the key source of artificial trans fats, will be banned as an ingredient in all foods sold in Singapore.

These include pre-packaged foods, such as snacks, baked goods, prepared meals and fat spreads, sold in Singapore, whether manufactured locally or imported, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a press release on Thursday (6 June).

Six companies have pledged their commitment to ensure that their products are PHO-free by June 2020, a year ahead of the ban.

These are Gardenia Foods, Nestle Singapore, NTUC FairPrice Co-Operative, Prime Supermarket, Sheng Siong Group and Sunshine Bakeries, said the MOH.

The six companies account for 50 per cent of the market share across the four high-risk food categories of snacks, baked goods, prepared meals and fat spread, added the ministry.

The ban deadline is to allow the industry time to reformulate their products or find new product sources.

Food manufacturers are required to ensure that PHOs are not used in their manufacturing process, while retailers and importers are required to ensure that their range of products does not include it as an ingredient.

All food manufacturers, retailers and importers will continue to be mandated to list the ingredients on the packaging of their products sold in Singapore.

The industry will be provided with guidelines to facilitate a smooth transition and to ensure compliance with the ban, said the ministry. Enterprise Singapore will support companies with a grant for product reformulation.

“Market surveillance will be conducted regularly to ensure the industry’s compliance to the ban. The Food Regulations under the Sale of Food Act will be amended to legislate the ban on PHOs,” added the MOH.

The ministry stressed that the measure is aligned with the World Health Organization’s recommendation as well as international practices.

“This measure will replace the current two per cent limit on the amount of trans fat content in fats and oils sold in Singapore, which has helped to reduce the average daily trans fat intake among Singaporeans from 2.1g in 2010 to 1.0g in 2018,” it added.

PHOs are formed during an industrial process which converts liquid oil to semi-solid fats to increase the shelf-life of products.

Commonly found in oils, fats, and pre-packaged products, it is estimated that about 10 per cent of such food categories in Singapore currently contain PHOs.

Trans fat consumption is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and there is no safe level of consumption. A study showed that a 4g increase in daily trans fat intake was associated with a 23 per cent rise in incidence of cardiovascular disease.

”The Health Promotion Board will also conduct public education campaigns to raise consumer awareness of the harms of trans fat, and how to reduce trans fat intake,” said the MOH.

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