Fruit and veg most non-compliant category in import checks

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Imported fruit and vegetables remained the foodstuff with the most non-compliances in the latest round of testing by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

Food safety statistics from January to June showed that 396 of 3,177 consignments of fruits and vegetables failed. A total of 87.5 percent of consignments passed SFA’s standards while all other categories had pass rates higher than 95 percent.

In the previous report, 3,825 consignments of fruit and vegetables were sampled from April to December 2019 with 491 failing. Sample failures were because of microbiological, chemical or pesticide residues exceeding allowable limits.

Of 4,239 meat and meat products tested in the first six months of 2020 only 39 failed and from 790 seafood products sampled only 33 were non-compliant. Out of 515 processed eggs analyzed 21 breached the regulations. From 271 chicken and quail eggs just one sample failed. Of 1,239 processed food tests, 59 violated the regulations.

SFA adopts a risk-based approach and is guided by science-based risk assessment and management. This means food of higher risks are subject to more stringent checks at the point of import. The country imports more than 90 percent of its food.

For products that fail tests, SFA rejects the consignments and requires importers to solve the issue with suppliers from overseas. Offenders who illegally import food are liable on conviction to a maximum fine of SGD $50,000 (U.S. $35,900) and/or imprisonment for up to two years.

Businesses, outbreaks and recalls


For food produced, manufactured, and sold locally, SFA licenses and inspects the premises to ensure compliance with food safety regulations.

Retail had the most inspections and percentage of non-compliances. More than 26,600 inspections found almost 1,300 non-compliances. Of 1,431 inspections of farms only two detected non-compliances. From 2,890 checks at non-retail 54 violations were found. They included poor housekeeping and upkeep of the premises, poor maintenance of equipment and pest infestation.

There were five gastroenteritis outbreaks in the first half of 2020 and 16 recalls, mostly due to allergens and chemicals. The amount of recalls was the same as the second half of 2019 but the number of outbreaks was down from 22  in April through December.

SFA has also established maximum limits for mercury, bromate, and mycotoxins in various foods effective beginning September 2020. These limits are in-line with relevant Codex or regulatory standards of developed countries, according to the agency.

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