askST: How are supplements with health claims regulated in Singapore?

Reader Gary Teo wrote in to askST to express concern over supplements available for sale in Singapore, for which distributors are claiming health benefits.

He asked: "How are products like the Jeunesse Reserve, which are expensive and claim to have certain health benefits, regulated?"

Health reporter Felicia Choo got the answers from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

The Jeunesse Reserve is a blend of fruit juices with added antioxidants, and hence is considered a food product, not a health product, said AVA.

AVA regulates the safety of food products, while the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) regulates health products such as western medicines, medical devices and complementary health products.

"In general, food products are regulated by AVA if they are taken as part of a daily diet, or supplementation to a diet, with no defined dosage," said the AVA.

"It (Jeunesse Reserve) is regulated as a food product under AVA and complies with our food safety standards and requirements."

For example, only permitted ingredients or additives under the Singapore Food Regulations are used in the product.

AVA added that Jeunesse Reserve also complies with general labelling requirements of the Singapore Food Regulations.

The requirements stipulate that all pre-packed food products, which are those that are packed in a wrapper or container in advance, before being put up for sale, have to be labelled with basic information such as the name of the food, ingredients, net content and source.