The Sale of Food in Singapore
The sale of food is a heavily regulated business activity in Singapore. In April 2013, four food outlets had their licences revoked and were also fined $3,000 for passing off beef as mutton.
The Sale of Food Act (SFA) is the main body of law setting out the applicable food sale standards in Singapore. Offences relating to food sales include the selling of:
- Adulterated food (section 25 of the SFA provides for a definition for “adulteration”)
- Food containing substances prohibited by regulations under the SFA
- Food containing more than a permitted amount of alcohol
- Food unfit for human consumption
- Food packaged without adequate labelling (i.e containing adequate descriptions)
- Food that has been labelled falsely
- Food that is not of the quality or nature demanded by the purchaser
- Food prepared under unsanitary conditions
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In recent news, 72 people suffered from food poisoning after eating food prepared by Spize’s River Valley branch. While the cause is still unknown, many were hospitalised as a result, with one person passing away. While Spize has not been brought to court yet, the branch that prepared the contaminated food has since had its licence suspended. ? – The Sale of Food Act sets out the standards for selling food in Singapore. Persons who are found guilty of selling food unsafe for consumption can face a fine of up to $5,000, and could also get their Food Shop Licence suspended or cancelled. ? – If you suffer from food poisoning after eating at a particular food stall, you can report it to the National Environment Agency (NEA) for their follow-up action. While the SFA does not require errant businesses to compensate victims of food poisoning, you can also consider filing a lawsuit if your illness is especially serious. #SingaporeLegalAdvice
Operation of Food Outlets Without a Licence
Food outlet operators are also guilty of an offence if they operate without a licence. People with infectious diseases are not allowed to carry on the business of selling food, such as in restaurants.
Food transporters are also under a statutory duty to maintain the cleanliness of their vehicles.
Penalties for Committing an Offence under the Sale of Food Act
Under section 49 of the SFA, a party found guilty of any offence will generally be liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000 and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or up to 3 months’ imprisonment, or to both.
The National Environment Agency is the primary regulatory body overseeing food hygiene and hawker standards in Singapore. More information on the sale of food and hawker regulatory standards may be found at its website.
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