Importers and manufacturers/producers of pre-packed food have to meet the statutory food labelling requirements. These include proper nutrition labelling for certain food products such as special purpose foods, foods that make health claims, etc.
The sections below will provide an overview of the guidelines on using nutrition claims or health claims, and information on application procedures for using new health claims.
For exact requirements and information on using nutrition and health claims (e.g. definitions, technical criteria such as weight or percentage of nutrients, etc.), importers and manufacturers/producers can refer to the following documents:
Using Nutrition, Health or Other Claims
In general, there are 3 types of claims food products can carry:
- nutrition claims,
- health claims, and
- other claims: Organic, gluten free, etc.
All pre-packed food products bearing nutrition claims or health claims must come with a nutrition information panel, as well as meet the related requirements stated in:
Nutrition claims suggest or imply that food products have nutritive properties such as:
- Salt (sodium or potassium)
- Protein and amino acids
- Carbohydrates, starch or sugars
- Fats, fatty acids and cholesterol
- Vitamins or minerals
- Any other nutrients
Examples of nutrition claims include "Low in calories", "Sugar free", “Reduced sodium” and “High in Vitamin C”.
Manufacturers/producers can use SFA’s Vitamins and Nutrients Calculator to run a search on various vitamins and minerals for advice on making a claim regarding vitamins or nutrients.
Health claims are descriptions that state, suggest or imply that a relationship exists between foods (or their constituents) and health.
There are 3 types of health claims:
- Nutrient function claims
- Other function claims
- Nutrient specific diet-related health claims
Nutrient function claims
Nutrient function claims describe the physiological role of the nutrient in growth, development and normal functions of the body.
In principle, only approved nutrient function claims that are listed in the SFA website (Guide to Food Labelling and Advertisement
and Vitamins and Nutrients Calculator
), can be made on food products that meet the respective claim criteria. The list of nutrient function claims are generally supported by scientific evidence.
Other function claims
Other function claims describe the specific beneficial effects foods (or their constituents) have on normal functions or biological activities of the body, in terms of:
- a positive contribution to health, or
- the improvement of a function, or
- modifying or preserving health.
Other function claims must be stated in their exact approved form, and must not be presented as product-specific (i.e. the claim cannot imply or suggest that the beneficial effects are specific to the product).
Truncated or reworded versions which deviate from or change the intended meaning of the original approved claim will not be accepted.
The list of approved health claims that can be used on food products sold in Singapore can be found in the ‘A Guide to Food Labelling and Advertisements.'
Nutrient specific diet-related health claims
Nutrient specific diet-related health claims are claims which relate foods (or their constituents), in the context of the total diet, to the reduced risk of developing a disease or health-related condition.
These claims are also known as “reduction of disease risk claims” under the Codex Guidelines for Use of Nutrition and Health Claims.
Local food manufacturers/producers and importers are encouraged to inform SFA or HPB on their intention to use the following approved nutrient specific diet-related health claims:
|Approved Nutrient Specific Diet-related Health Claims*
|A healthy diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D, with regular exercise, helps to achieve strong bones and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis. (State name of food here) is a good source of / high in / enriched in / fortified with calcium.
|A healthy diet low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a risk factor for stroke and heart disease. (State name of food here) is sodium free / very low in / low in / reduced in sodium.
|A healthy diet low in saturated fat and trans fat, may reduce the risk of heart disease. (State name of food here) is free of / low in saturated fats, trans fats.
|A healthy diet rich in whole grains**, fruits and vegetables that contain dietary fibre, may reduce the risk of heart disease. (State name of food here) is low / free of fat and high in dietary fibre.
|A healthy diet rich in fibre-containing foods such as whole grains+, fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancers. (State name of food here) is free of / low in fat and high in dietary fibre.
* The criteria for use of these health claims (e.g. maximum amount of sodium, fat allowed in product, etc.) can be found under regulation 9A and the Fourteenth Schedule of the Food Regulations. The approved health claims and criteria are based on HPB’s existing nutrient claims guidelines, with reference taken from currently available guidelines established by major developed countries.
** Refer to regulation 40A for the definition and labelling requirements for "wholegrain" products.
Apply for nutrient specific diet-related health claims
||Ensure your food product meets the relevant criteria for the intended health claim.
Refer to the revised regulation 9A and the Fourteenth Schedule of the Food Regulations for more information.
||Apply for HPB’s approval for your food product to carry the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS).
It is recommended for food products to first pass a pre-market evaluation and be approved by HPB to carry the Healthier Choice Symbol before the use of the nutrient specific diet-related health claims can be considered.
See HPB’s page on the Healthier Choice Symbol Programme for more information.
||Notify the use of the nutrient specific diet-related health claim through e-mail via the online feedback system: https://csp.sfa.gov.sg/feedback
SFA will assist in providing advice on the suitability for the use of the intended nutrient specific diet-related health claim for your food product.
Other claims are those not related to nutrition or health claims, and include “organic” and “gluten-free” and “Raised without the use of antibiotics”.
Products that are specified as organically produced, must be accompanied by a certificate to substantiate that the product is certified as organic under an inspection and certification system that complies with section 6.3 of the Codex Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods, GL 32-1999, or its equivalence.
Products labelled as “gluten free” must meet the Standard for Foods for Special Dietary Use for Persons Intolerant to Gluten (CODEX STAN 118-1979) established by the international food standards setting body, Codex Alimentarius Commission*.
Download the guidelines and standard from the links below:
*The Codex Alimentarius Commission is the international food standards body established by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.
Raised without the use of antibiotics
Food products labelled as being free from antibiotic and hormones are not allowed. The table below provides guidance on the appropriate use of claims relation to the absence of antibiotics and hormones in food.
Claims on presence of hormones
Hormone free/ Raised without use of hormones
This claim would create the impression that the meat does not contain hormones. This claim would be incorrect and inaccurate as meat, poultry and fish products contain naturally occurring hormones.
No growth promotants / stimulants
Hormones and low doses of antibiotics in feed are considered growth stimulants. Some consider most of the ingredients in feed mixes such as grains, vitamins and minerals to stimulate growth. With such a broad and diverse understanding of growth stimulant, this claim could mean the absence of a number of substances and the presence of others, depending on the individual. Currently, there is also no objective criteria to define and evaluate such a claim, its use is therefore not acceptable.
Claims on presence of antibiotics
The claim would create a false uniqueness since food, made with animal raised for food production, for sale in Singapore are not allowed to contain antibiotic residues.
Fed no antibiotics/
Not injected with antibiotics
Antibiotics could be administered by different means (e.g. injection, water, feed or spray), a claim on the absence of antibiotics through specific administration, would mislead consumers.
Raised without use of antibiotics
May be used on food labels and advertisements, provided that the conditions are met.
SFA notes that traders would deliberately source food from farmers that take extra effort to ensure that no antibiotics were administered throughout the lifespan of the animal (i.e. from birth to slaughter), due to market demand. In order to recognise the farmer’s effort to differentiate their method of production and to protect consumer’s interest, SFA requires food traders to provide documentary proof to substantiate for use of such claim.
The claim has to be supported by a valid certification issued from a competent authority recognised to conduct audits with respect the use of the claim, throughout the lifespan* of the animal.
*“Lifespan” would include that the animal is not given birth or nursed by mothers administered with antibiotics, as antibiotics would be passed through mother’s bloodstream and milk.
Application for Use of New Health Claims
Besides using the permitted health claims, local food manufacturers/producers and importers can apply for the use of new health claims (i.e. new nutrient function claims and new other function claims).
Apply for new health claims
Refer to the Food Regulations for information on permitted food ingredients and additives.
Download and complete SFA’s Health Claim Application Form. Ensure that you have attached all required supporting documents (e.g. approval letter or document from national food authorities, verification of proprietary or confidential data, etc.)
||Submit the completed application form and all supporting documents to:
Regulatory Policy Department
Food Regulatory Management Division
Singapore Food Agency
JEM, 52, Jurong Gateway Road, #14-01
How new health claims are evaluated
Applications for the use of new health claims are evaluated according to the framework and principles established by SFA’s Advisory Committee on Evaluation of Health Claims.
The framework and principles are based on Codex Alimentarius’ recommendations on the scientific basis for health claims.
About the Advisory Committee
The advisory committee was formed in August 2009, and is tasked to:
- establish the framework and principles for evaluation of health claims in Singapore, based on Codex's recommendations on the scientific basis for health claims;
- evaluate and make recommendations on applications for use of other function claims as defined by Codex; and
- advise and update relevant scientific developments and legislation relating to evaluation of health claims.
The committee comprises reputable scientific experts with relevant professional training and experience from the following government bodies, tertiary institutions and industry associations:
- Health Promotion Board
- Health Sciences Authority
- Enterprise Singapore
- Consumers Association of Singapore
- National University of Singapore
- Nanyang Technological University
- Nanyang Polytechnic
- Republic Polytechnic
- Singapore Polytechnic
- Temasek Polytechnic
- Singapore Manufacturers' Federation
- Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association
- Health Supplements Industry Association of Singapore