NTUC foodcourts to use healthier oils

A stall at the NTUC Foodfare foodcourt in Kallang Wave Mall. Many stallholders currently rely on vegetable and palm oils but they will be required to switch to canola or olive oil in the next two to three years.
A stall at the NTUC Foodfare foodcourt in Kallang Wave Mall. Many stallholders currently rely on vegetable and palm oils but they will be required to switch to canola or olive oil in the next two to three years.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Under labour movement's 10-year plan, FairPrice also gives 15% discount on such oils

All NTUC Foodfare foodcourts and coffee shops will switch to using healthier cooking oil in the next two to three years as part of an initiative to make healthy food more accessible and affordable.

Currently, just over a third of the food stalls in its 12 foodcourts and seven coffee shops are using the likes of canola and olive oil, which can lower levels of unhealthy cholesterol and reduce chances of heart problems.

Many stallholders rely on vegetable and palm oils but these will be phased out as their supply contracts end or are renewed.

The nutritional value of an oil depends on the type of fat it contains and the nutrients that can be found in it.

Mr Tan Suee Chieh, group chief executive officer of NTUC Enterprise, who announced the move yesterday, said: "This is not a decision ordinary businesses will make... We are trying to change behaviour."

He added that the new initiative to encourage Singaporeans to eat and live healthily is part of NTUC Social Enterprises' 10-year plan to meet the changing social needs of Singaporeans.

HEALTH-CONSCIOUS

As I get older, I am more conscious of my health. It's good to know what oil the stall uses and how many calories the dish has so that people can moderate their food intake.

MADAM ESTHER YAP

NTUC FairPrice is also offering discounts of up to 15 per cent for some of the healthy cooking oils under its house brand. They are certified with the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS). The discounts started yesterday and will last till the end of the year.

Major stores will also have a section displaying HCS-certified products in the next two months.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who launched the initiative yesterday at an event at Kallang Wave Mall, said it complements the Government's recently declared war against diabetes and push to promote a healthy lifestyle.

"Healthy living... is important for everyone, and it is possible for every one of us to do this by making small changes to our day-to-day living," he said.

"This could mean opting for healthier food when we eat out, incorporating healthier varieties of food at home or adding more physical activity, such as brisk walking, into our day."

Meanwhile, children in NTUC First Campus' My First Skool pre-schools will be given stickers when they eat their share of fruit and vegetables each day.

NTUC IncomeShield policyholders who pass all four health screening tests conducted by medical professionals will receive $50 shopping vouchers as an incentive to stay healthy.

Madam Esther Yap, 50, a sales coordinator, said: "As I get older, I am more conscious of my health. It's good to know what oil the stall uses and how many calories the dish has so that people can moderate their food intake.

"I used to buy vegetable oil for cooking at home, any of the cheapest oils. But I changed to olive oil after having been told that my cholesterol level was a bit high three months ago. It is not that much more expensive and the food tastes better."

Mr Tan said a survey of 1,600 people carried out from 2014 to last year showed that Singaporeans' main concerns were the cost of living, ageing, health and healthcare costs, and social mobility.

NTUC Social Enterprises was set up to meet a wide range of social needs, from stabilising prices of essential goods and services to providing basic financial security.

Mr Tan added: "Forty years ago, cost of living was a central need... But today Singaporeans are no longer living in a Third World country... People are educated, affluent and they want different things."

To tackle these growing concerns, NTUC Social Enterprises is making a "big strategic shift", he said, in providing services for Singaporeans at different life stages, such as childcare and services for the elderly.

The group is also experimenting with technology in areas such as e-commerce and data analytics.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2016, with the headline 'NTUC foodcourts to use healthier oils'. Print Edition | Subscribe