Step up checks on mislabelling

Many health-conscious consumers choose products based on the nutritional information found on the label or packaging.

So, the findings by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) regarding inaccurate labelling on common bread spreads found in supermarkets are a cause for concern (Bread spreads' trans fat levels in question; March 11).

Consumers depend on the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to conduct checks.

The agency should increase its manpower to conduct more checks for the sake of consumers' health.

While inaccurate nutritional information may raise only general diet concerns to most people, there are those for whom mislabelling has serious health consequences, such as people with diabetes.

Hence, any violations should be seriously dealt with. Where appropriate, the AVA should demand strong penalties that accurately reflect producers' liability to ensure future compliance.

Another possible area for deceptive labelling lies in health supplements.

The Health Supplements Industry Association of Singapore estimates that Singaporeans spent about $594 million on supplements in 2015, and this amount is expected to increase by 8 per cent to 10 per cent annually.

Therefore, the Health Sciences Authority should also step up post-market surveillance.

There should be no compromise when it comes to public health.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2017, with the headline 'Step up checks on mislabelling'. Print Edition | Subscribe