Overview

Overview

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 provide food to customers for dining at the premises or for take away. 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, 559 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. With effect from 1 April 2020, higher penalties will be imposed on lapses detected in the toilet. The revised penalties do not apply to offences committed before 1 April 2020. 

Annex A [PDF, 559 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, 426 KB].

Food Delivery Services

Food delivery services generally refer to the delivery of cooked food from retail establishments to the consumer upon placement of order. As operators of food delivery services do not carry out any handling, cooking or other forms of processing of food, they currently do not require a licence to operate. However, they are responsible for ensuring that the food they deliver is transported in a manner that is hygienic and does not compromise food safety. This includes maintaining the cleanliness of the vehicle, as well as the carrier bag, receptacle and equipment used for the transportation of food.

Operators are still subject to food safety and hygiene requirements under the Sale of Food Act (SOFA) and Environmental Public Health Act (EPHA). For instance, Regulations 16(3) and 16(4) of the Environment Public Health (Food Hygiene) Regulations on “Transport of Food” stipulates provisions covering receptacles, such as carrier bags, used in the course of transportation of food. These receptacles must be able to prevent food from being contaminated. The provision of food unsafe, unsuitable or unfit for consumption would constitute an offence under these legislation.

Section 15 SOFA: Selling unsafe or unsuitable food

(1)  A person must not sell food that the person knows or ought reasonably to know is unsafe.

(2)  A person must not sell food that the person knows or ought reasonably to know is unsuitable.

(3)  For the purposes of subsection (2), it is immaterial whether the food concerned is safe

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 delivery workers are not directly involved in the preparation of food, such as the washing and cutting of raw food, and the processing of ready-to-eat food. Therefore, they are currently not required to attend the Basic Food Hygiene Course.

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, they will not require a licence from SFA. Persons who handle and prepare food under this scheme are encouraged to attend the Basic Food Hygiene Course (also known as “WSQ Follow Food and Beverage Safety and Hygiene Policies and Procedures” course). The list of SSG-accredited training providers can be downloaded here.

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. This page 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.