New stat board to oversee food safety and security; AVA to be disbanded

New stat board to oversee food safety and security; AVA to be disbanded

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) will bring together food-related functions currently carried out by three other agencies - the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

SINGAPORE:  A new statutory board, to be called the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), will be formed in April next year under the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) to oversee food safety and security, it was announced on Thursday (Jul 26).

The agency will bring together food-related functions currently carried out by three other agencies - the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), said MEWR and the Ministry of National Development (MND) in a joint news release.

Formed in response to challenges posed by the global food landscape and climate change, SFA will manage food safety, hygiene regulations and address issues of food supply.

SFA aims to “enhance regulatory oversight from farm to fork”, the release added.

A National Centre for Food Science will also be established under SFA, consolidating the food laboratory capabilities of the three agencies.

“Safeguarding Singapore’s food supply is increasingly challenging due to the complexities of global food supply chains as well as the impacts of climate change,” said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli in the press release. 

“We are already seeing the effects of climate change, such as plankton blooms from warmer sea waters and increasingly erratic rainfall patterns. The formation of the SFA is timely as Singapore aims to turn our food challenges into strategic advantages.”

“The SFA will work closely with industry and R&D partners to develop new solutions and products, and seize global opportunities in the food industry,” added Mr Masagos. 

“Doing this will help make our food supply future-ready and provide good jobs for Singaporeans in the food industry.”

The SFA will also aim to streamline licensing standards for food businesses, including farmers, food manufacturers, food retailers and food service operators.

Mr Lim Kok Thai, chief executive officer of AVA, will be concurrently appointed as the chief executive officer (designate) of SFA.

NPARKS TO BE LEAD AGENCY FOR ANIMAL AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT

In addition, under the Government’s reorganisation of its food, plant health and animal management functions, all non-food plant and animal-related functions of the AVA will be transferred to the National Parks Board (NParks).

This will allow NParks to provide a one-stop service on animal management and welfare issues, manage “human-animal interactions”, and improve the detection and response to animal diseases which can be transmitted to humans, said the press release.

“With NParks as the lead agency for animal and wildlife management, as well as animal and plant health, we will work more closely with stakeholders to develop a science-based management approach, with holistic strategies and more effective responses,” said Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee.

A new Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) will be created under NParks and take on the AVA’s role as first responder for animal-related feedback, as well as maintaining standards in animal welfare and health.

When the changes take effect on Apr 1, 2019, AVA, which was formed in 2000, will be dissolved.

The reorganisation will see about 1,150 employees redeployed from the AVA, NEA and HSA. About 850 staff from the three agencies will be transferred to SFA. Another 300 will be transferred from AVA to NParks.

Source: CNA/rw

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