SFA licenses food processing establishments where food is manufactured, processed, prepared or packed for the purpose of distribution to wholesalers and retailers. These food processing establishments include bakery and flour confectionery factories, dairy processing plants, noodles and pasta manufacturers, surimi-based products factories and, etc. SFA also licenses slaughter-houses and cold stores that are used for storage of meat and/or fish products. With the formation of SFA in April 2019, food retail businesses, such as restaurants, cafes, snack bars, supermarkets, mobile food wagons and food caterers previously licensed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) are now licensed by SFA as well.
In addition, SFA also registers food storage warehouses that are used for commercial storage of food.
In year 2020, there are 1,698 processed food establishments, 183 cold stores and 14 slaughter-houses licensed by SFA and 1,286 food storage warehouse which are registered with SFA.
All food establishments licensed by SFA are subjected to regular inspections to ensure that the food produced is safe and fit for human consumption. Food produced in these establishments is also subjected to laboratory analysis to check for compliance with the Food Regulations.
All food establishments are also graded and classified under grade “A”, “B”, “C” or “D” according to their food safety and hygiene standards. The grade is reviewed on an annual basis. The grading system will allow food manufacturers to continuously upgrade their food establishments to remain competitive and produce safe and wholesome food while consumers or buyers will be able to identify and select food that is manufactured by food establishments that are of a higher standards. The updated list of food establishments according to their grades can be found here.
Inspection & Sampling at Food Establishments
All licensed food processing establishments, cold stores and slaughter-houses are subjected to regular inspections to ensure that the food produced is safe and fit for human consumption.
The frequency of inspections depends on the grade of the food establishments as well as the previous compliance history of the establishments. These inspections are generally unannounced to obtain a more accurate assessment of the normal operating practices and conditions of the inspected establishments. Various aspects of food safety and hygiene will be checked which would include general conditions of the premises, storage practices, food preparation steps, food processing equipment used, pest status in the premises, food handling practices and personal hygiene practices of the food handlers, labelling details of prepacked food, delivery vehicles, in-house quality control programs, staff training in food safety and hygiene, documentation and records, etc.
The purpose of the inspection is to ensure that licensees and their food production personnel adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and implement food safety programs such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) to ensure safe production of food. Inspections could also allow procedures and practices which may be hazardous or pose contamination risk to food to be detected and ensure licensees take prompt action to correct the deficiencies. Any areas found to need improvement could also be highlighted during the inspections. After an inspection is completed, a report detailing the inspection findings will be sent to the licensee for timely follow-up and subsequent verification by SFA.
In addition, SFA may collect food samples from the licensed establishments for laboratory analysis to monitor if these samples comply with the standards stipulated in the Food Regulations.
Under the Wholesome Meat and Fish Act and the Sale of Food Act, SFA has the legal power to take enforcement action against any licensee who is found in breach of the licensing conditions or has contravened any provision of the Acts. These enforcement actions can range from issuance of a stern written warning to collection of composition sum as stipulated under the Acts. For cases of severe violations which infringed food safety. SFA may suspend or revoke the licence that was issued to the licensee until rectification works have been completed satisfactorily.
All registered food storage warehouses would be subjected to regular inspections by SFA. The food storage warehouse operators are advised to align their practices to SFA’s recommended Good Warehousing Practices (GWP). A copy of GWP in chinese version is also available for download here.
During the inspection, the Cold Store Audit Assessment Checklist will be used to assess the food storage warehouses.
Grading of Food Establishments
SFA conducts annual on-site audit assessments on SFA- licensed local food establishments to determine their grading status, and provide on-site advice to help them improve and upgrade their premises.
All licensed food establishments (including cold stores, slaughter-houses and food processing establishments) in Singapore are categorised into 4 grades:
- A (Excellent)
- B (Good)
- C (Average)
- D (Pass)
Each food establishment will be graded annually based on its food hygiene and food safety standards before its licence expires. The grade awarded will encourage the establishment to strive for better grades and seek improvement in food hygiene and safety standards. The grades of food establishments allows buyers from supermarkets and food retailers to identify good and reliable manufacturers when they source for food product supplies. Consumers can enjoy safer food knowing that buyers from supermarkets and food retailers source their food product supplies from food establishments with better grades.
You can refer to the Food Establishment Audit Assessment Checklist for the list of criteria used to assess the grading of food processing establishments.
Cold stores that are licensed solely for the storage of meat and/or fish products, the Cold Store Audit Assessment Checklist will be used to assess the grading of these cold stores.
The areas of audit assessment of food establishments are as follows:
- Premises (general cleanliness and housekeeping)
- Food Storage
- Food Processing Equipment and Facilities
- Pest Control Program
- Food Handling and Staff Facilities
- Product Identification and Traceability
- Dispatch & Transport
- Product Inspection and Lab Testing
- Foreign Body Control
- Management of Allergen
- Implementation of Quality Control Programs
- Staff Competency and Food Hygiene Training
- Documentation and Records
- Violation Records
SFA also provides advice on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and food safety programmes such as the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). SFA may also collect samples for laboratory examination. Workers operating in a slaughterhouse, egg / meat / fish processing establishment or cold store must be examined and found medically healthy by a medical practitioner to work in these food establishments.
You can find a copy of the Medical Report form to be completed by a Medical Officer .
SFA will follow-up with the licensees in writing on the shortcomings observed during the audit assessment. A renewed licence will be issued via the GoBusiness Licensing (SFA e-Licensing) system with the grade printed on it.
Refer to the list of Current Grades of Food Establishments (as at 1st Quarter 2017) for the grading status of food establishments via the Licensed Food Establishment Search function. The list is updated on quarterly basis.
Total number of food establishments as at 1st Quarter 2017:
- Number of pig slaughterhouse: 1
- Number of chicken slaughterhouses: 10
- Number of duck slaughterhouses: 4
- Number of meat and fish processing establishments: 344
- Number of cold stores (for storage of meat and/or fish products): 160
- Number of other processed food establishments: 1165