MHA relooks curbs on sale of food with alcoholic content

Food products containing alcohol, such as Udders' Rum Rum Raisin ice cream, could be exempted from sales curbs under the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act in the future. The Ministry of Home Affairs said it is in discussions with the Minist
Food products containing alcohol, such as Udders' Rum Rum Raisin ice cream, could be exempted from sales curbs under the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act in the future. The Ministry of Home Affairs said it is in discussions with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and stakeholders on the matter.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

It is looking into exempting such products from ban on sale of alcohol after 10.30pm

Have a late night craving for rum raisin ice cream?

You may soon be able to buy alcoholic ice cream from retail outlets even if it is past 10.30pm - if restrictions on the sale of food products containing alcohol are relaxed.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Thursday (Oct 25) that it is looking into providing an exemption for the sale of such products, where there is little or low likelihood of alcohol abuse. It said it is in discussions with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and stakeholders on this.

Exempted products can then be sold and consumed without the restrictions specified under the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act.

Under the Act, which came into force in 2015, products containing more than 0.5 per cent alcohol cannot be sold at retail outlets from 10.30pm to 7am.

The consumption of liquor in public places is also banned from 10.30pm to 7am, in a bid to minimise public disorder.

In the statement, MHA said "the measures have significantly reduced public drunkenness and related disamenities".

The Straits Times understands that the possible changes could affect products sold at retail outlets including alcoholic ice cream, cakes with alcohol content, chocolates infused with liquor and cooking wine such as Hua Diao wine.

  • Products that may be exempted

  • The Straits Times understands that the exemption from the alcohol ban could apply to the following food products:

    • Cakes such as alcoholic tiramisu

    • Chocolates infused with liquor

    • Cooking wine, which can contain about 16 per cent to 18 per cent alcohol

    • Ice cream, some varieties of which can contain about 4 per cent alcohol

    Derek Wong

In April, supermarket chain FairPrice decided to restrict the sale of Udders ice cream with alcohol content exceeding 0.5 per cent from 10.30pm to 7am to comply with the Act.

Four of Udders' flavours were affected: Rum Rum Raisin (3.9 per cent alcohol), Tira-miss-u (3.8 per cent alcohol), Wineberries (3.5 per cent alcohol) and Orange Liqueur Dark Choc (2.7 per cent alcohol).

A can of Tiger Beer has 5 per cent alcohol by volume.

The restriction on the sale of alcoholic ice cream came under the spotlight after a Facebook user uploaded a photo of a sign at a FairPrice Xpress outlet in Bedok that read: "Udders ice cream. No sale of Rum Raisin from 10.30pm to 7am."

Ms Wong Peck Lin, co-owner of the home-grown ice cream parlour, welcomes the review: "If food products containing alcohol are exempted from the Act, we hope to see more sales at FairPrice Finest, FairPrice Xpress and Cheers stores."

 
 

This is especially because she estimates that 80 per cent of sales of alcoholic ice cream at Udders outlets are made at night.

Ms Wong also said that if the exemptions eventually apply, Udders would consider expanding its alcoholic range by three or four flavours.

A spokesman for supermarket chain FairPrice said sales of food products, such as certain flavours of ice cream, have not been significantly impacted by the Act. The company added that it will continue to work with the industry and the authorities to "facilitate a responsible environment for the sale and consumption of liquor products".

Dr Thomas Lee, an addictions specialist at The Resilienz Clinic, said the minimal alcohol content in food products means there is no real concern if such items are exempted from the ban.

"Alcoholic drinks that can be abused are the problem," he said.

"One has to eat a lot of ice cream for it to be equivalent to one shot of whisky."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2018, with the headline 'MHA relooks curbs on sale of food with alcoholic content'. Print Edition | Subscribe