SINGAPORE – The Ministry of Health (MOH) in Singapore will be introducing “Nutri-Grade”-related measures that will apply to freshly prepared beverages from the end of 2023, to enable sugar and saturated fat reduction in the country’s diet.
The measures will apply to all outlets selling freshly prepared beverages with higher sugar and saturated fat content.
The freshly prepared beverages, according to MOH in the country, include freshly squeezed juices, bubble teas, freshly brewed coffee, tea, and milo.
The measure stipulates that the outlets shall have to label such beverages with the “Nutri-Grade” mark and also will be prohibited from advertising freshly prepared beverages with the highest level of sugar and saturated fat content.
This follows the positive public response to the implementation of “Nutri-Grade” labeling requirements and advertising prohibitions in relation to prepacked beverages.
In this regard, the MOH has reported that the median sugar level of prepacked beverages has fallen from 7.1% in 2017 to 4.7% in 2021.
Further, the sales for prepacked beverages with higher sugar content (i.e. Grade C and D prepacked beverages) have fallen from 63% in 2017 to 40% in 2021.
This is after similar measures were placed in beverage manufacturers since 2022, called the Nutri-Grade system, where beverages will be assigned Grade A to D for free sugar and saturated fat.
Grade A corresponds to the lowest sugar and saturated fat, while Grade D corresponds to the highest and the label is mandatory for beverages with Grades C and D, but voluntary for Grades A and B.
“In response, consumers have shifted to buying healthier versions of the products, or smaller pack sizes. These shifts are aligned with international trends in the beverage industry; hence we do not see our labeling measures as hindering overseas brands,”added the board.
By extending similar measures to freshly prepared beverages, the MOH intends to better facilitate consumers in identifying beverages that are higher in sugar and saturated fat content to make more informed and healthier choices.
The ministry also plans to reduce the influence of advertising on consumer preferences for unhealthy beverages and spur industry reformulation.
The specific requirements in respect of freshly prepared beverages have not been published, however, reference may be taken from the “Nutri-Grade” system in respect of prepacked beverages.
The health watchdog has set a hefty fine of up to S$1,000 (US$720.61) for non-compliance with the measures in relation to prepacked beverages and may be doubled for repeat offenders.
Post-market surveillance will be conducted by the relevant authorities to ensure compliance with the regulations.
MOH says the measures are to be applied because Singaporeans are consuming on average twelve teaspoons (or 60g) of sugar daily, which has become a concern, and more needs to be done to reduce Singaporeans’ sugar intake.
In addition, more than half of Singaporeans’ daily sugar intake comes from beverages, of which pre-packaged beverages contribute 64 percent.
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