A new agency has been created in Singapore to oversee food safety beginning in April next year.

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) will be under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR). It will bring together food-related functions currently handled by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

The AVA will be disbanded while the NEA and HSA will continue to carry out non-food related functions. The SFA will oversee food safety regulations across the supply chain. Lim Kok Thai, CEO of AVA, will be appointed in the same role for the SFA.

Authorities said the move would enhance regulatory oversight over all food related matters and strengthen food safety. They added it will boost partnership opportunities with food businesses and provide better services to Singaporeans by harmonizing regulations across the three agencies.

Businesses that previously had to register with NEA and AVA will only have to deal with SFA in the future.

A National Centre for Food Science (NCFS) will be established under SFA to consolidate the food laboratory capabilities of the three agencies. SFA will manage foodborne disease outbreaks as well as product tracing and recalls. The agency will be able to address lapses quicker and have one point of contact for public feedback.

Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, said formation of the SFA was “timely” and it will help make the food supply future-ready.

“Safeguarding Singapore’s food supply is increasingly challenging due to the complexities of global food supply chains as well as the impacts of climate change. We are already seeing the effects of climate change, such as plankton blooms from warmer sea waters and increasingly erratic rainfall patterns,” he said 

“The SFA will work closely with industry and R&D partners to develop new solutions and products, and seize global opportunities in the food industry. These could include climate-resilient farming solutions, advanced food manufacturing techniques, and food products with the Singapore quality assurance.”

All non-food plant and animal related functions of AVA will be transferred to the National Parks Board (NParks) under the Ministry of National Development (MND). NParks will be the lead agency for animal and wildlife management, as well as animal and plant health.

Meanwhile, Finland’s food industry will also see changes from the start of next year.

The Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira), the Finnish Agency for Rural Affairs and a part of the National Land Survey of Finland’s Centre for ICT Services will become the Finnish Food Authority (Ruokavirasto).

The agency promotes, supervises and examines food safety and quality, animal health and welfare, plant health, animal feed, plant protection products, soil conditioners, plant propagation material and raw materials used in agricultural and forestry production.

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