Instant self-heating hotpots seizure: Dos and don'ts of buying food products online or overseas

The self-heating hotpots, which have a heat pack that requires only room-temperature water to be activated, are one of the latest food fads to hit Singapore.
The self-heating hotpots, which have a heat pack that requires only room-temperature water to be activated, are one of the latest food fads to hit Singapore.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) fined importers and seized instant self-heating hotpots containing meat, such as Ba Shu Hotpot, better known by its brand name, Ba Shu Lan Ren.

The self-heating hotpots, which have a heat pack that requires only room-temperature water to be activated, are one of the latest food fads to hit Singapore.

Ba Shu Lan Ren's products include a vegetable and sausage version, one that contains rice and meat including chicken wing tips, and another with beef.

Food products containing meat can be imported from only approved sources that comply with AVA food-safety standards and requirements, as these products could carry animal and food-borne diseases of public health and trade importance, AVA said in a statement on Oct 9.

Here are some dos and don'ts if you are thinking of buying food online, or bringing food into Singapore from foreign destinations for personal consumption.

1. Check sources

The AVA advises members of the public to purchase food from reputable sources. In fact, AVA says to buy food from "established and reliable retail establishments".

 

2. Better safe than sorry

Exercise discretion - when in doubt of the safety of the food product, do not purchase or consume it.

 

3. Check expiry dates

Select food that has not passed its expiry date, as shown on the packaging.

4. Bringing food into the country

Travellers entering Singapore can bring in food and food products for personal consumption if:

- the type of food is allowed;

- the amount is within allowance;

- the source country has been approved by AVA, and the products are not for commercial sale.

5. Limit quantity

Processed food from all regions is allowed with a cap of 5kg or 5 litres for each traveller. The total value of these products cannot exceed S$100 a person.

6. Eggs

A maximum of 30 hen eggs from Australia, New Zealand and Sweden, can be brought into Singapore for personal consumption.

7. Fruits and vegetables

A "small, reasonable quantity" of fresh fruit and vegetable from all regions, is allowed. However, a phytosanitary certificate must accompany fresh fruit and vegetable from Mexico and the South American tropics.

8. Seafood

Fish, as well as frozen cooked crab meat and frozen cooked prawns from all regions; and live or frozen oysters from Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the US, are permitted. Each person is allowed a maximum of 5kg of seafood products, out of which a maximum of 2kg can be frozen cooked crab and prawn meat.

9. Meats

Each person is allowed a maximum of 5kg of meat -beef, pork, mutton and poultry - directly from approved sources that include countries such as the US, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Denmark and The Netherlands.

For the full list of approved sources and a general guide to bringing in foods into Singapore for personal consumption, go to ava.gov.sg.