The Singapore government will establish a new statutory board to oversee food safety and security in the country.
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) will be formed on 1 April 2019 under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) to oversee food safety and security. SFA will bring together food-related functions currently carried out by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, the National Environment Agency and the Health Sciences Authority, announced the government in a statement last week.
“The integration will enhance regulatory oversight over all food related matters from farm to fork and further strengthen our food safety regime. It will facilitate better partnership with food businesses to develop new capabilities and solutions, and seize future opportunities. SFA will also provide better services to Singaporeans and businesses by harmonising regulations across the three agencies,” said the statement, jointly issued by MEWR and the Ministry of National Development (MND).
Meanwhile, all existing non-food plant and animal related functions of AVA will be transferred to the National Parks Board (NParks) under MND. NParks will focus on animal and plant health matters.
As the lead agency for food-related matters, SFA will partner food businesses to strengthen capabilities, tap on technologies to raise productivity, undertake research to develop new lines of business, and catalyse industry transformation, in collaboration with Singapore’s economic and scientific agencies.
It will look at issues such as how local producers can provide vegetables and fish supplies that are protected from adverse environmental conditions by tapping into innovative technologies in high-tech farming and aquaculture that enable intensified production via controlled processes, including vertical vegetable farms and indoor fish farming.
“SFA will strengthen Singapore’s food security and resilience against geopolitical risks and climate change, and position our companies to seize exciting opportunities in the future economy,” said the MEWR/MND. “SFA will also facilitate more business-friendly regulations with oversight of all food safety and food security policies.”
For example, by harmonising licensing standards and combining existing licenses for food businesses, including farmers, food manufacturers, food retailers and food service operators, businesses will be able to adapt and transform their business models look at new ways to grow their operations.
A dedicated agency will also help strengthen management of foodborne disease outbreaks to protect public health, through closer coordination of responses to food-related issues, including product tracing and recall, and engagement of various stakeholders and the public, said MEWR/MND.
To deepen capabilities in food safety, a National Centre for Food Science (NCFS) will be established under SFA to consolidate food laboratory capabilities. The NCFS will bring together key competencies in food diagnostics, and research and development in food safety to ensure that food continues to be safe for consumption and standards are benchmarked internationally.