New standards for storing and transporting frozen food in S'pore to boost cold chain ecosystem

The new standards come as supermarkets observed a 20 per cent increase in demand for frozen food.
The new standards come as supermarkets observed a 20 per cent increase in demand for frozen food.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - New standards for storing and transporting chilled and frozen food were launched on Friday (Oct 1), said the Singapore Standards Council (SSC).

The standards are aimed at strengthening Singapore's cold chain ecosystem by improving the management of chilled and frozen food, which includes pre-packaged food, meat, vegetables and eggs.

These come as supermarkets observed a 20 per cent increase in demand for frozen food, with Singaporeans continuing to stay home amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Overseen by Enterprise Singapore, the Singapore Manufacturing Federation - Standards Development Organisation (SMF-SDO) and the Singapore Food Agency, the standards will ensure that consumers receive safe, fresh and quality products.

This new series of standards, called SS 668: 2020 - Cold chain management of chilled and frozen foods, will set out organisational goals, policies and technical requirements that are key to the cold chain management process for food products, said SSC.

A spokesman for the SMF-SDO told The Straits Times that while the standards are not mandatory, businesses may seek to attain the SS 668 certification to gain a competitive advantage.

Businesses that adopt the standards will need to monitor the time-temperature profile along the entire cold chain, which commences from the processing establishments to the transportation to warehouses and chillers at retail outlets.

This helps businesses better manage the risk of food spoilage and, in turn, generate cost-savings in the longer term.

Ms Chong Nyet Chin, director of food safety and quality at FairPrice, said: "FairPrice welcomes the nation's move towards a more sustainable food chain and ecosystem through the implementation of the new integrated cold chain standards for fresh produce and packaged food items.

"The new standards will not only help us optimise the reliability and effectiveness of our cold chain processes, but also contribute to our sustainability goals by reducing food waste and further strengthen our commitment to providing fresh and quality food to our customers."

Other frozen food suppliers that ST spoke to were split on whether to adopt the new standards, with one citing concerns about cost and the other noting the value of the new standards.

The manager of meat supplier Hanifaa Frozen Food, who wanted to be known only as Madam Sakila, 32, said: “I do not think we will be implementing these standards, especially since they are  not mandatory.

“Adopting them could mean many changes in our processes, which may cost a lot and take time for our workers to get used to.”

But Mr Tan Tang Ming, 76, business director of Huat Huat Frozen Food Supplier, thinks the  standards are necessary in assuring customers that its food products are fresh and safe.

“I believe our standards are already more than adequate. But if there is more we can do to ensure our food is even fresher, we will be sure to adopt them in our factory,” he said.

Noting there may be extra costs in implementing the  standards, Mr Tan added: “I still think it could be worth it in the long run. So it is something we will definitely consider.”