Savour healthier food at public sector events from next month

Dhany Osman
AFP file photo

Starting in April, public sector gatherings will take on a different flavour as healthier catering guidelines for food provided at events and training courses take effect.

“We want to provide tasty, healthier choices for our public officers and guests, so they can enjoy the food while staying healthy and active,” said Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat in Parliament on Thursday (9 March).

Speaking during the ministry’s Committee of Supply debate, Chee noted that such a scheme had been implemented by the People’s Association for its grassroots events since December 2016, a move which he praised.

Promoting healthier eating is a “critical factor” towards preventing and managing diabetes, Chee said.

In line with this goal, the MOH will introduce in July the Healthier Ingredient Development Scheme, which will provide funding for food manufacturers to develop products using healthy ingredients, such as whole grains and healthier cooking oils.

“By working closely with the industry, I’m confident we can further enhance the sector’s value-add by developing healthier products that are just as delicious and riding on a trusted Singapore brand to expand our markets overseas,” said Chee.

He added that he was encouraged to see Singaporeans opting for healthier food choices, with the market share for Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) products having increased from 12 per cent in 2012 to 18 per cent in 2016.

Despite this positive development, the nation’s sugar intake level is still too high with Singaporeans consuming an average of 12 teaspoons of sugar a day – more than twice the five teaspoons limit recommended by the World Health Organization.

Sixty per cent of this sugar intake comes from sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), two-thirds of which originated from pre-packaged SSBs, said Chee.

MOH will continue to consult with businesses and consumers, while monitoring the experiences of other countries in implementing measures to change dietary preferences and consumer behaviour, he added.