Singapore is to remove melamine-related measures for the import of milk products from China.

Requirements were established following the 2008 milk incident in China, where the industrial chemical melamine was detected in local infant milk formula products. They will be lifted at the start of November.

More than 290,000 people, mostly children, were poisoned in China, and at least six babies died after consuming contaminated infant milk. Melamine was added illegally to milk to increase its protein concentration to meet national standards. Two people were executed in 2009 for their part in the scandal, and several others were sentenced to life in prison.

Revised rules

Milk, milk products, and products containing milk from China produced on or after Dec. 18, 2008, were allowed to be imported into Singapore subject to complying with certain conditions.

These included manufacturers being required to test each batch of their raw materials and end products to ensure they were not contaminated with melamine. Chinese authorities also had to inspect and test each batch of the products and issue health certificates with the results of melamine tests to accompany consignments exported to Singapore.

Since 2008, China has implemented various measures to strengthen the supervision and administrative processes of their dairy products, including tighter production licensing, more robust inspection, detection, monitoring, and evaluation, and more severe penalties for products found with melamine across the dairy supply chain, according to the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

Milk and milk products such as milk powder, cheese, butter, ice cream, and yogurt from China will continue to be subject to SFA checks and other import requirements.

Enforcement actions

In other news from Singapore, MTIA Pte has been fined for failing to arrange an SFA inspection and selling imported food before it is inspected.

The licensed meat exporter imported 27,000 kilograms of frozen chicken products from Brazil in August 2022. The firm was fined $37,500 (U.S. $27,400) in court.

Importers must arrange for meat products to be inspected, examined, and certified by an authorized examiner before they are sold, distributed, or exported.

In September, Manna Pot Catering Pte was fined $8,000 (U.S. $5,800) for food safety deficiencies.

In May 2022, the Ministry of Health and Singapore Food Agency received reports of illness involving 21 people after consuming food made by the establishment.

A Ministry of Health and SFA investigation at the premises found multiple food safety lapses, such as poor housekeeping, poor refuse management, and a dirty kitchen exhaust hood.

In another case, Deli Hub Catering Pte was fined $4,000 (U.S. $2,900) in court for hygiene lapses under the Sale of Food Act.

In December 2022, the Ministry of Health and the Singapore Food Agency were informed about an outbreak with 21 patients after having food prepared by Deli Hub Catering Pte.

A joint investigation at the site found hygiene lapses, including a dirty freezer, unclean containers used for food preparation, and empty paper towel dispensers.

In September 2023, the Singapore Food Agency seized 1.6 tons of vegetables illegally imported from Malaysia.

SFA and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) operation targeted delivery trucks, which typically transport fresh and processed vegetables intended for direct distribution to retailers and customers. Two trucks were stopped by ICA officers and referred to SFA for checks.

SFA found more than 1.6 tons of undeclared and under-declared produce, such as spring onions, pandan leaves, red chili, carrots, tomatoes, long beans, and Beijing cabbage, imported by two firms.

Fruit and vegetables can only be imported by licensed companies, and every consignment must be declared and accompanied by a valid import permit. SFA said that illegal imported vegetables are from unknown sources and can pose a food safety risk.

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