The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (“AVA”) in Singapore functions similarly to the Food and Drugs Administration in the USA. Its role is to ensure a continued supply of safe food in Singapore. Food labelling and advertisements in Singapore are also monitored by AVA.
Last year, AVA formed an Advisory Committee on Evaluation of Health Claims. The committee held its first meeting in November 2009 and established a framework and principles for evaluation of health claims in Singapore, based on recommendations from Codex Alimentarius Commission (“Codex”). Codex is the body created by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Health Organisation to develop food and veterinary standards.
A food importer or manufacturer may wish to apply to AVA for evaluation of health claims. Applicants must first obtain approval for use of the substance as an ingredient in their food product prior to applying for evaluation. Results of the laboratory tests verifying the claims and third party studies substantiating the claims should be submitted.
The first evaluation, on a plant sterols and stanols claim, required the manufacturers to state on their labels:
a. the proposed daily intake;
b. special suitability for use of the product;
c. reminder to seek medical advice for certain groups of consumers; and
d. a statement to indicate that use of the product should be as part of a balanced diet.