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10 Oct 2019

10th Oct 2019

       The Ministry of Health (MOH) will introduce mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labels for less healthy pre-packaged sugar sweetened beverage[1] (SSBs) and advertising prohibitions for the least healthy SSBs on local mass media channels. The decision was made after reviewing the international and local evidence for these measures, and taking into consideration the feedback received from the public consultation earlier this year.

Key findings from public consultation on SSBs

2.     From 4 December 2018 to 25 January 2019, MOH and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) consulted a wide range of stakeholders and the public on four possible measures to reduce Singaporeans’ sugar intake from pre-packaged SSBs. These were:

  • Mandatory front-of-pack nutrition label;
  • Regulation of advertising;
  • Excise duty on manufacturers and importers; and
  • Ban on sale of higher-sugar SSBs.

3.   In total, we received over 4,000 responses from members of the public, health professionals, academia and representatives from the SSB and advertising industries, through multiple channels including the online consultation on REACH platform, on-ground listening points, face-to-face dialogue sessions, as well as via email.

4.     Almost nine in ten of the respondents [2] were supportive of doing more to reduce Singaporeans’ sugar intake from pre-packaged SSBs.

a)  84 percent supported mandatory front-of-pack labels which provide information about the product, allowing consumers to make informed choices;

b) 71 percent supported regulation of advertising to reduce the influence of advertisements on purchase and consumption choices of less healthy SSBs;

c) 65 percent supported an excise duty to encourage manufacturers to reformulate and reduce the sugar levels in their drinks. However, there were concerns on increased costs, should manufacturers choose to pass on the cost to consumers; and

d) 
48 percent supported a ban on sale of higher-sugar SSBs to effectively remove access to such higher-sugar SSBs, but some shared that it would deprive consumers of choice.

5.     Across the public and industry members, there were calls for the Government to strengthen educational and promotional efforts further to encourage Singaporeans to reduce their sugar intake, and to look into regulating other sources of sugar, such as freshly prepared drinks and sugary food.

6.      Please refer to ANNEX A for a detailed report on the public consultation findings.

Government to introduce labeling and advertising regulation for a start

7.    The Government has carefully considered the feedback received and reviewed existing overseas and local evidence. We will start by introducing two of the measures, specifically the front-of-pack nutrition label and advertising regulations, while we continue to explore an excise duty or a ban, which are more complex measures that require further study. We urge SSB manufacturers to consider reformulating their drinks to contain less sugar even as we further study these measures.

(I) Front-of-pack nutrient-summary label

8.     We will introduce a graded, colour-coded front-of-pack nutrient-summary label, which will be mandatory for less healthy SSBs. This label aims to help consumers identify less healthy SSBs and make more informed, healthier choices. It also encourages manufacturers to reformulate SSB products. Under this labelling scheme, SSBs will be assigned a summary grade based on their nutritional quality, in which sugar will be a main but not the sole determinant. While the labelling scheme will cover the range of healthier to less healthy SSBs, it will only be mandatory for the less healthy segments. We will nonetheless encourage labelling of healthier SSBs to aid in consumer decision-making.

(II) Advertising regulations for the least healthy SSBs

9.       We will introduce an advertising prohibition of product advertisements for the least healthy SSBs (i.e. those that receive the poorest front-of-pack label grade) on all local mass media platforms, including broadcast, print, out-of-home and online channels. This aims to reduce the influence of such advertisements on consumer preferences.

10.    Together, these two measures will provide consumers with nutrition information, particularly on sugar content, to make informed choices, and reduce influence from advertising, thus encouraging healthier choices and spurring industry reformulation. These measures also complement MOH’s and HPB’s current promotional and educational efforts to shift the market towards healthier product offerings, as part of a sustainable long-term approach to reshape consumer behaviour and choices.The scope of the SSBs covered will include, but is not necessarily limited to, Asian drinks [3], soft drinks, malted drinks, juice drinks and juices, cultured milk/ yoghurt drinks, and 3-in-1 or 2-in-1 instant beverages.

Next steps

11. MOH and HPB will conduct consumer focus group discussions on the label design, and obtain feedback from the SSB and advertising industries on the implementation details of the two measures over the coming months. More details on these two measures will be shared in 2020.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH
10 October 2019


[1] SSBs are defined as drinks containing added sugar and juices with naturally occurring sugars.

[2] Out of 3,729 responses received via REACH portal and on-ground listening points. Three listening points were held (at ITE College East, Bedok Town Square and Geylang Serai) to reach out to a wider segment of the population.

[3] Asian drinks are defined as ready-to-drink beverages of Asian-ethnic origin. Such drinks are typically brewed from herbs, fruits or flowers found in Asia. Examples include chrysanthemum tea, jasmine tea, bandung and barley drink.




Category: Press Releases