Food Retail


Food hygiene standards in Singapore

SFA regulates Singapore’s food retail industry to ensure that food sold at retail outlets is safe for consumption. This is important as Singapore is known for being a food paradise, offering foodies everything from delectable hawker fare to the best of international haute cuisine.

SFA licenses food retail businesses, including restaurants, cafes, snack bars, supermarkets, mobile food wagons and food caterers.  Food retail businesses can apply for a licence online here

In 2014, SFA introduced the Food Safety Management System (FSMS) to raise hygiene standards in the food catering industry. All applicants for catering licences are required to submit a FSMS plan during licence application and renewal.

Food handlers

Food handlers who prepare and handle food – such as chefs, cooks, and kitchen helpers – need to be trained and registered with SFA. The registration form for food handlers is available here.

Food hygiene officers

Food Hygiene Officers (FHOs) assist licensees to ensure high standards of hygiene and sanitation are maintained in the licensed premises. Licensees of certain types of food retail establishments are required to engage FHOs to ensure hygiene standards are met. Businesses may register or update SFA on their FHOs by completing this form (click here). 

Grading of licensed eating establishments

The Grading System for Eating Establishments is a structured system of appraisal for food retail outlets. It encourages licensees to practise good personal and food hygiene, and housekeeping of their premises. Retail food establishments are given a grade by SFA based on the overall hygiene, cleanliness and housekeeping standards of the premises. All food retail outlets are advised to display the certificate indicating their grade, enabling the public to make a more informed choice when patronizing food outlets.

Eating establishments and food stalls are assessed by SFA and given the following grades:

  • A - a score of 85 per cent or higher
  • B - a score of 70 per cent to 84 per cent
  • C - a score of 50 per cent to 69 per cent
  • D - a score of 40 per cent to 49 per cent

[*NEW: SFA will introduce a new Food Hygiene Recognition Scheme (FHRS) in late 2020 for licensed food retail establishments to recognise and affirm consistent efforts in upholding high hygiene standards. Under the new Scheme, food retail establishments will attain a Bronze, Silver or Gold award based on at least 2, 5 or 10 years of good hygiene track records respectively. Upon implementation in 2020, this new Scheme will replace the current food hygiene grading system.]

SFA has developed a set of food hygiene guidelines and educational materials to educate licensees and food handlers with basic knowledge on good hygiene practices that they can adopt during food handling at their premises.

Points Demerit System

All licensees and their food handlers have a responsibility to ensure the food sold to the public is clean and wholesome. They must observe good personal and food hygiene at all times. Under Section 99 of the Environmental Public Health Act, a licence may be suspended or cancelled if a licensee violates the Act or the Regulations made there under. The Points Demerit System (PDS) was introduced in 1987 as a systematic and fair approach to deal with the suspension and cancellation of licences for food hygiene infringements. It also seeks to motivate licensees to improve their hygiene standards. Under the PDS, depending on the nature of offence, demerit points are given for each public health offence according to the following categories:

  • Minor offences - 0 demerit point
  • Major offences - 4 demerit points
  • Serious offences - 6 demerit points

If a licensee accumulates 12 demerit points or more within 12 months, his licence will either be suspended for two weeks or four weeks, or be cancelled, depending on his past record of suspension. A list of offences and their corresponding demerit points can be found here. [PDF, 416 KB]

In 2010, the PDS was extended to main operators of coffee shops, food courts, and canteens to encourage operators to place greater emphasis on the overall hygiene standards of the premises such as general housekeeping, toilet maintenance and refuse management. With effect from 1 March 2013, if a main licensee accumulates 12 demerit points or more within 12 months, his licence will either be suspended for 1, 2 or 3 days, depending on his past record of suspensions. During the period of suspension, all individual stalls within the coffee shop, food court and canteen are required to be closed as well.

Since 1 April 2014, demerit points for food hygiene offences have been revised to categorise each hygiene offence according to the its impact on food safety. Offences which were assessed to be pose higher risk of food contamination and have greater impact on food safety were accorded more demerit points, whereas those which have less direct impact on food safety or are more administrative in nature were accorded fewer, or no demerit point. The revised demerit points do not apply to offences committed before 1 April 2014.

Annex A [PDF, 417 KB]contains a list of offences with the revised demerit points. The list is available in the following languages:

More details of the revised PDS can be found here [PDF, 354 KB].

HDB/URA's Home-based Small Scale Business Scheme

The Home-Based Small Scale Business Scheme by HDB and URA allows residents to prepare small quantities of food in their homes for sale.

The scale of operations in a residential unit is limited. This, together with the conditions of the Scheme, meant that food is prepared for only a very small number of people. Given this, SFA has a set of guidelines on food hygiene practices which operators under the scheme can refer to. As long as the operators comply with this set of guidelines [PDF, 476 KB], they will not require a licence from SFA.

Operators will still be subject to section 40 of the Environmental Public Health Act (EPHA) on provision of unfit food for consumption.

Section 40 EPHA: Articles of food unfit for human consumption

(1) No person shall, without lawful excuse, have in his possession for sale by retail any article of food intended for human, consumption which is unsound or unfit for human consumption.

Food Retail Industry

Online Services

Licence for retail food establishments

For licence to operate retail food establishments, including restaurants, caterers, coffeeshops, food courts, cafes, takeaway kiosks and supermarkets.

Licence for food vending machine

Food vending machines are man-less operations where food are stored in machines for sales to consumers. Thispage contains information on the necessary requirements to operate a food vending machine.

Licence for private canteen

Private canteens operated by third party vendors i.e. staff canteen/hostel kitchen, regardless whether food is sold or provided free-of-charge.

Licence for sales of herbal tea

Private canteens operated by third party vendors i.e. staff canteen/hostel kitchen, regardless whether food is sold or provided free-of-charge.

Mobile food wagon

Mobile Food Wagons refer to vehicles that have been retrofitted with a functional kitchen for the purpose of food preparation.

Pet Café( For samples of notices, please click here[PDF, 232.57 KB] )

Pet cafes refer to food shops where patrons may bring their pets along when they dine at these food shops. Cafe owners are not allowed to keep or display their pets at the cafe.

Starting a new F&B business? ‘Turning Passion into Profits’ is a guidebook published by the Restaurant Association of Singapore, and supported by Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA). The guidebook is designed to equip aspiring food entrepreneurs and existing F&B owners with tools required to navigate through the different stages of running their own business. To view the book, please go to this link.