New guidelines make it easier for local food companies to meet healthy food claims

A file photo of healthy foods and vegetables. Local food companies are increasingly developing food products that have health or nutritional benefits to meet this growing demand. PHOTO: iSTOCKPHOTO
A file photo of healthy foods and vegetables. Local food companies are increasingly developing food products that have health or nutritional benefits to meet this growing demand. PHOTO: iSTOCKPHOTO

SINGAPORE - As more consumers turn to healthier food alternatives, local food companies are increasingly developing food products that have health or nutritional benefits to meet this growing demand.

A new technical food reference guide that was launched on Thursday (June 29) aims to make it easier for these local food manufacturers to develop food products that are certified as healthy or nutritious by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

Named TR 58, the food reference document spells out the recommended processes and procedures that companies can adopt to achieve the amount of nutrients required by the AVA for products to be labelled with certain nutrition claims.

There are currently a total of 146 common food claims approved by the AVA. Approved nutrition claims for food products include "reduced sodium intake" or "low in calories" or "sugar free", among others.

The Singapore Manufacturing Federation Standards Development Organisation (SMF-SDO) and SPRING Singapore jointly launched the food technical reference on Thursday (June 29) at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability.

An industry first in Singapore, the document enables small and medium food companies to be more competitive by equipping them with the expertise in developing and manufacturing healthy and nutritious products on a commercial scale.

This results in potential time and cost savings when companies develop and release new food products into the market.

The guidelines in the document complies with international food standards set by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation and is within the existing framework of local food safety regulations established by the AVA.

Representatives from nearly 250 companies attended the launch and many were receptive to the added benefits that the new technical reference would bring.

"As a new company in the food industry, bringing food products with health benefits to market can be time-consuming and costly… this helps to make the process more efficient and speeds up time to market," said Mr Andrew Lim, the co-founder of Boxgreen, a local online health snack retailer that was established in 2014.

Businesses who are interested in obtaining the TR 58 can purchase an online copy from the Singapore Standards eShop for $14.

The SMF-SDO will be scheduling workshops over the next few months to allow industry players to effectively implement the stipulated guidelines.

Correction note: An earlier version of the story stated that the Singapore Manufacturing Federation Standards Development Organisation (SMF-SDO) is Singapore’s food standards regulatory body when it is not. This has been corrected.