Novel Food

Novel Food

SFA considers novel food to be food and food ingredients that do not have a history of safe use. Novel food may also include compounds that are chemically identical to naturally occurring substances, but are produced through applications of technology (e.g. precision fermentation). Examples of novel food include cultured meats and alternative proteins produced with novel compounds.

Overview on the Novel Food Regulatory Framework

The production of novel food for human consumption is a developing industry. As we facilitate the growth of the novel food industry, the safety of food consumed in Singapore remains a top priority. To ensure food safety, SFA subjects all novel food to a rigorous safety assessment framework before they are approved for sale.

In 2019, SFA introduced the novel food regulatory framework, which requires companies to seek pre-market allowance for novel food. Companies producing novel food products are required to conduct and submit safety assessments of their products for SFA’s review before they are allowed for sale. SFA will review these safety assessments to ascertain that potential food safety issues have been addressed. For more information on the safety assessments, you may refer to ‘Conditions related to Novel Food’

To support the framework, SFA established the SFA Novel Food Safety Expert Working Group to provide scientific advice to ensure that safety assessments are rigorously reviewed. The expert working group is chaired by the Head of the Centre for Regulatory Excellence, Duke-NUS Medical School, which seeks to strengthen health product regulatory systems across Asia. The group comprises 12 experts specialising in food science, food toxicology, bioinformatics, nutrition, epidemiology, public health, genetics, carcinogenicity, metabolomics, fermentation technology, microbiology and pharmacology.

Members of Novel Food Safety Expert Working Group

Chair

Prof John Lim

Executive Director, Centre of Regulatory Excellence, Duke- NUS Medical School

Core Lead (Policy), SingHealth Duke-NUS Global Health Institute

Senior Advisor, Ministry of Health, Singapore

Chairman, Consortium for Clinical Research & Innovation, Singapore (CRIS)

Members

Designation

Specialisation Field(s)

Prof Zhou Weibiao

Head, Department of Food Science and Technology, National University of Singapore

Food science (Food engineering, food processing and functional foods)

Prof William Chen

Director, Food Science Technology Programme, Nanyang Technological University

Food science (fermentation)

Prof Christiani Jeyakumar Henry

Deputy Executive Director, Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation, A*STAR

Nutrition

Adj Assoc Prof Sebastian Maurer- Stroh

Executive Director, Bioinformatics Institute, A*STAR

Bioinformatics (allergenicity prediction)

Adj Assoc Prof Annie Ling

Group Director, Policy, Research and Surveillance Division, Health Promotion Board

Epidemiology

Dr Albert Ty

Deputy Director (Non- Communicable Diseases/Public Health Intelligence), Epidemiology & Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health

Public health

Assoc Prof Benjamin Smith

Director, Innovations in Food and Chemical Safety Programme, A*STAR

Director, Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH), NTU

Toxicology (non-animal testing)

Prof Steve Rozen

Associate Dean of Research Informatics at Duke-NUS Medical School

Director, Duke-NUS Centre for Computational Biology

Bioinformatics, human genetics & cancer genomics

Asst Prof Ching Jianhong

Assistant Professor, Cardiovascular and Metabolic

Metabolomics

Dr. Nic Lindley

Senior Scientific Advisor, Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation, A*STAR

Fermentation technology, Microbiology

 

Prof Chan Chun Yong, Eric

 

Chair of Department Graduate Committee, Department of Pharmacy, NUS

 

Pharmacology and Toxicology (physiological-based pharmacokinetics-pharmacodynamics modelling)

 

SFA closely monitors international developments in regulations of novel food and is working with regulators such as those in Australia and New Zealand, as well as international organisations (such as the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations) to share information and collaborate on risk assessment. For example, SFA organised the Roundtable on Novel Food Regulations in 2019, 2021 and 2022, which provide a platform for local and overseas regulators and industry players to discuss challenges and possible solutions in the safety assessment of novel food.

As part of SFA’s collaboration with FAO, SFA has reviewed three literature review papers drafted by researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, contributed a case study on Singapore’s experiences in regulating cultured meat, and hosted the FAO Expert Consultation Meeting on the Safety Aspects of Cell-Based Food in November 2022.

SFA will continue to identify opportunities to drive discussions on the safety of novel food.

Conditions related to Novel Food

As novel food do not have a history of safe use, food safety must be the principal consideration when companies develop such products.

Before selling novel food in Singapore, please follow these steps:

1. Approach SFA for information required for review

To ensure food safety, the novel food regulatory framework requires companies to seek pre-market allowance for novel food.  Food businesses are encouraged to consult SFA early in the product development process to understand the information SFA requires to be submitted to substantiate the safety of the novel food product. Companies can contact SFA via our online feedback form.

Interested companies can also attend SFA’s bi-monthly Novel Food Virtual Clinics for more information. You may sign up here.

2. Submission of Safety Assessments

Companies producing novel food products are required to conduct and submit safety assessments of their products for SFA’s review before they are allowed for sale in Singapore.

The assessments cover potential food safety risks such as toxicity, allergenicity, safety of its production method, and dietary exposure arising from consumption.  Please refer to this document (last updated Sep 2022) for the required food safety information to be included in the application for novel food safety assessment. Before submission, please complete the respective self-assessment checklists below and include a screenshot of the acknowledgement received upon submission of the checklist.

·       Self-assessment checklist for precision/biomass fermentation processes

·       Self-assessment checklist for cell-based food companies

SFA will review these safety assessments to determine if potential food safety issues have been addressed. An evaluation of a novel food product will take an estimated 9-12 months upon the receipt of a complete application. No fees will be charged.

Other Resources on Novel Food

For more information on Novel Food, you may refer to the following:

Fact Sheet on Alternative Proteins

https://www.sfa.gov.sg/docs/default-source/default-document-library/factsheet-on-alternative-proteins-(last-checked-25-oct).pdf?sfvrsn=670e02d5_0

Literature review papers drafted by researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and reviewed by SFA

1) https://www.fao.org/3/cc2241en/cc2241en.pdf

2) https://www.fao.org/3/cc2502en/cc2502en.pdf

3) https://www.fao.org/3/cc2353en/cc2353en.pdf