Singapore is to introduce a bill on food safety and security later this year to better manage new and emerging risks.

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA), formed in 2019, will propose the act to consolidate and strengthen official powers that are currently in several pieces of legislation.

Desmond Tan, minister of state for sustainability and the environment, revealed the plans at the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE)’s Committee of Supply debates earlier this month.

Rules will provide greater clarity on the regulatory framework for novel foods, including mandating a pre-market safety assessment is done before approval for sale is granted. SFA will also inspect and sample novel food products, as is done for other food items.

The bill would continue to impose existing requirements for companies on packaging labels to indicate the true nature of the food and help consumers make informed choices.

Food delivery companies are not licensed by the agency because they are not involved in food preparation or processing. SFA is looking at whether these companies need to indicate hygiene and cleanliness information on their platforms.

Amy Khor, senior minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, said that gastroenteritis incidents affected more than 1,200 people in 2018 and 2019.

Outbreak updates
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Singapore Food Agency are investigating an outbreak that has sickened 82 people.

People reported gastroenteritis symptoms after eating food prepared by Chilli Api Catering Pte, at Bedok North Street, between March 10 and 12. Fourteen people are currently hospitalized and in stable condition.

SFA suspended operations at the food business in mid-March until further notice.

Finally, a food poisoning outbreak linked to a restaurant in the country earlier this year affected more than 100 people.

Officials received reports of gastroenteritis involving 101 people who had consumed food from Eng’s Heritage between Jan. 6 and 9. A dozen people were hospitalized but have since been discharged.

The operating license was suspended by the Singapore Food Agency from Jan. 13 to Feb. 26. The authority has since lifted the measure at Eng’s Heritage in Northpoint City mall. The SFA said it would continue to place the restaurant under close surveillance to ensure it adheres to food safety requirements.

It was initially reported that 26 people were sick and six needed hospital treatment. An investigation into the cause of illness is ongoing, said the SFA and Ministry of Health.

Eng’s Heritage disposed of all ready-to-eat and thawed food, food ingredients and perishable items, and also cleaned and sanitized their premises, including the equipment and utensils.

Staff involved in food preparation have since re-attended and passed a food hygiene course. Eng’s Heritage has also assigned another trained food hygiene officer to replace the previous one.

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