On Oct. 25, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) announced that a new licensing framework for food establishments will be introduced from Jan. 1, 2023, to provide better food safety assurance to consumers.
The new framework, called Safety Assurance for Food Establishments (SAFE), will distinguish food establishments with the "Bronze", "Silver", or "Gold" awards, in replacement of the existing letter-grade system – "A", "B", "C" or "D".
An estimated 23,000 food establishments are expected to come under the SAFE framework, including both retail and non-retail food establishments.
New SAFE framework with longer license durations
Food establishments currently receive their letter grading after an annual assessment.
Under the SAFE framework however, food establishments will be awarded with a status of "Bronze", "Silver" or "Gold", corresponding with a three, five, or 10-year licence duration.
The higher the award tier, the longer the licence duration granted.
Those that have demonstrated a good track record of food safety will be eligible for longer licence durations and higher award tiers, according to SFA.
However, licence durations for food stalls within coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts and canteens will be dependent on their tenancy agreement period, even though they are still part of the SAFE framework, SFA said.
Award criteria depends on category
Food establishments will be subject to different award criteria depending on their category.
For example, outlets involved in "significant food handling practices" and are exposed to higher food safety risks, such as caterers and restaurants are under Category A and will have the most stringent requirements.
In order to be awarded "Bronze" – the equivalent of a three-year licence – they will have to go two years without having a major food safety lapse, and have a Food Hygiene Officer (FHO) employed.
New awards "a better representation" of establishments' safety efforts
Tan Lee Kim, the Director-General and Food Administration and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of SFA explained that the new SAFE framework is a better system, as it takes into account the ongoing performance of food establishments.
This is compared to the current A/B/C/D framework, which only provides an annual "snapshot" audit of an outlet's hygiene and food standards. He said:
“This is a better representation of the food establishment’s consistent efforts in food safety assurance and can enable consumers to make better informed choices.”
SFA added that outlets will be given "sufficient time to implement the necessary requirements" to attain their desired award tier, before the new framework is implemented in 2023.
To support and complement the framework, SFA has also launched a training framework, with four levels of Food Safety Courses (FSCs) for workers in food establishments.
Individual food establishments will be notified in 2022 of their award tiers, based on their track record of food safety standards.
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