Nutrition labels for drinks high in sugar, saturated fat to be rolled out in practical manner: MOH, HPB
Not all establishments will be required to use laboratory analysis to determine the sugar and saturated fat content of their beverages, say the authorities.
SINGAPORE: The implementation of Nutri-Grade labels for freshly prepared drinks will be done in a "practical" manner, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Health Promotion Board (HPB) said on Tuesday (Aug 16).
In a letter to The Straits Times' Forum page, MOH director of epidemiology and disease control Chow Wai Leng and HPB director of policy and strategy development Terence Ng noted concerns from operators.
These concerns came after Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said last week that food and beverage outlets will be required by the end of 2023 to include nutrition labels on their menus indicating drinks that contain higher levels of sugar and saturated fat.
This new requirement will also apply to freshly brewed drinks from coffee shops, freshly squeezed juices and bubble tea.
"Similar to other jurisdictions that have introduced mandatory labelling, we will consider applying measures to only larger establishments at the start, while exempting smaller establishments serving freshly prepared beverages," Dr Chow and Mr Ng said.
Not all establishments will be required to use laboratory analysis to determine the sugar and saturated fat content of their beverages, they added.
"It is acceptable to grade the beverage by estimating the sugar and saturated fat content from the amount of individual ingredients added into the beverage," the letter read.
Dr Chow and Mr Ng said that more details of the measures will be released in the future.
Advertising prohibitions will also apply to drinks with the highest level of sugar and saturated fat content, Mr Ong said on Aug 11 at the opening ceremony of the 19th International Society for Peritoneal Dialysis Congress.
These measures aim “to help consumers make more informed, healthier choices, reduce the influence of advertising on consumer preferences and spur industry reformulation”.
MOH announced in December last year that pre-packaged drinks will include Nutri-Grade labels by the end of 2022.
The four-level grading system is based on the sugar and saturated fat content in beverages. It will be colour-coded – A (dark green), B (light green), C (orange) and D (red), with A being the category with the lowest sugar and fat thresholds.
Drinks that are graded C or D must have their labels on the front of the package, MOH said. If sold online, or from a vending machine or a buyer-facing automated beverage dispenser, the image of the Nutri-Grade mark must be displayed according to the regulations.
Advertisements are also prohibited for grade D drinks in most cases.