Singapore seeks to level playing field for SMEs to tap into functional foods trend

In Singapore, there are three types of claims food products can carry: nutrition, health, and other claims. ©iStock

New guidelines have been launched in Singapore for food manufacturers seeking to develop food products with approved health and nutrition claims.

Technical Reference TR 58 has been created by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation Standards Development Organisation (SMF-SDO) and SPRING Singapore — the government enterprise body charged with implementing the city state’s Food Manufacturing Transformation Map.

The bodies believe that Singapore’s 850 food and beverage companies are poised to tap into the trend for more functional foods.

These food companies can use TR 58 as a guidance document when they develop food products, in order to meet the regulatory requirements set by Singapore’s Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) for health and nutritional claims.

The guidelines take their reference from the Codex Alimentarius recommendations on health and nutritional claims.

Dr Loke Wai Mun, convener of the working group for TR 58, said that by setting out the key processes of product conceptualisation and development, and commercial production for applying functional ingredients in food products, the guidelines can help level the playing field for small and medium food manufacturers.

“(This provides) them access to the recommended industry practices to overcome uncertainties or delays in new functional food product development. This will help local SME food manufacturers increase their competitiveness,” he said.

Nutritive properties

In Singapore, there are three types of claims food products can carry: nutrition, health, and other claims.

Nutrition claims suggest that food products have nutritive properties such as vitamins and minerals, health claims are descriptions that state or imply that a relationship exists between foods (or their constituents) and health. Other claims are those not related to nutrition of health claims, and include 'organic' and 'gluten-free'.

Sunny Koh, deputy president of SMF and Chairman of its F&B industry grou,p said the list of approved health and nutritional claims had expanded over the past few years.

“The development of TR 58 together with (the) AVA rides on those efforts, to encourage manufacturers to produce innovative food products with nutritional or health claims. This would help enhance their product competitiveness and give home-grown companies a competitive advantage when they internationalise."

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