F&B outlets selling freshly prepared drinks not expected to test for sugar, fat

By the end of 2023, the Nutri-Grade labelling system will also apply to freshly prepared drinks such as tea, coffee and bubble tea. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: UNSPLASH

SINGAPORE - Food and beverage (F&B) outlets selling freshly prepared drinks will not be expected to test beverages in the laboratory for sugar and saturated fat content when the Nutri-Grade mark is implemented at the end of 2023.

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) said in response to queries that it will accept other supporting documents for the monitoring or evaluation of drinks already available to consumers, to justify the grading of beverages.

The process, called post-market surveillance, will include calculations done by the outlets based on the nutrition information panel of the ingredients indicated in the outlet’s recipe.

An HPB spokesman said: “The individual or entity that owns the establishment is responsible for calculating the sugar and saturated fat content of the beverage, and determining its grade according to the Nutri-Grade grading system.”

Those that sell and supply freshly prepared drinks, have revenues under $1 million in the latest financial year, and supply such drinks to fewer than 10 food outlets will initially be exempt from implementing the Nutri-Grade mark.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has said this concession will be reviewed over time, with adjustments made when necessary.

The Nutri-Grade labelling rules – aimed at cutting Singaporeans’ sugar intake by helping consumers identify beverages higher in sugar and saturated fat – came into effect on Dec 30, 2022, for pre-packaged drinks such as soft drinks, milk and yogurt drinks, and instant powdered beverages.

Earlier in February, MOH said that besides food outlets and caterers, non-retail settings such as workplaces, schools and healthcare institutions will be required to display Nutri-Grade labels for drinks with high sugar content by end-2023.

This applies to pre-packaged and freshly prepared drinks, and extends to those bought from vending machines, whether the drinks are customisable or not, MOH said.

The Nutri-Grade system comprises colour-coded grades from A to D, with D indicating the highest sugar and/or saturated fat content.

Now, only C-grade or D-grade pre-packaged drinks and non-customisable drinks dispensed from machines in retail settings must be labelled. Labelling is optional for those with A or B grades.

Retailers are also not allowed to advertise D-grade drinks.

By the end of 2023, the Nutri-Grade labelling system will also apply to freshly prepared drinks such as tea, coffee and bubble tea.

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Freshly prepared drinks without a default recipe, where consumers are required to state their preference for selected ingredients when ordering, will get a grade for the highest sugar and/or saturated fat content possible for the drink.

For example, bubble tea, which requires consumers to choose their desired sugar level of between zero and 100 per cent, will be graded according to the version made with 100 per cent sugar.

F&B outlets are also required to display the Nutri-Grade mark next to C-grade and D-grade beverages listed on signs, posters and other materials that inform customers of their sale.

HPB said non-compliance with the new provisions from end-2023 will be an offence punishable with a fine not exceeding $1,000. Two or more convictions will be met with a fine not exceeding $2,000.

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