The nutritional label is expected to have four different grades: “A” (dark green), “B” (light green), “C” (yellow) and “D” (red), with Class A drinks having the lowest sugar content and Saturated fat content, while grade D has the highest content.
For Class C and D beverages, it is mandatory to have the Nutri-Grade symbol on the front of the pack.
This has been confirmed in the draft regulations for this system recently opened for public consultation by the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
“If the ‘Nutri-Grade beverage’ is sold online through a vending machine or automatic beverage dispenser, the image of the Nutri-Grade brand must be displayed to the buyer and [Grade D beverages] It is also forbidden to advertise, except at points of sale, ”says the draft regulation.
With regard to the sugar and saturated fat content, the new document also states: Class A drinks must not contain more than 1 g of sugar per 100 ml and / or not more than 0.7 g of saturated fat per 100 ml; Class B beverages – Over 1 g, not more than 5 g of sugar and / or over 0.6 g, not more than 1.2 g of saturated fat; Class C beverages – Over 5 g, not more than 10 g of sugar and / or over 1.2 g, not more than 2.8 g of saturated fat; Class D beverages – Over 10g sugar and / or over 2.8g saturated fat.
“The sugar content will be the lower [based on its sugar and saturated fat grades], and even [if a beverage’s] Sugar content and saturated fat content are ‘A’, [its grade will be] ‘B’ if [it] Contains aspartame, sugar alcohols, carbohydrate alcohols, polyhydric alcohols or other substances that are added instead of sugar to achieve a sweet taste, ”according to the agencies.
Both Class A and Class B beverages can continue to be labeled as Healthier Choice products under the Singapore Healthier Choice Symbol scheme, as the dietary guidelines for these products are similar to SSBs with a sugar content of 5 g or less the limit values for class A and B.
The proposed changes are expected to be published on June 30, 2021 and will come into effect on June 30, 2022.
Singapore’s senior health minister Edwin Tong first announced the labeling system in parliament on March 5, 2020, drawing widespread dissension from the local beverage industry, which claimed it could “confuse” consumers.
The industry wants more commitment.
This week the industry has reacted with some hesitation to the new draft regulation, welcoming the move in the name of public health, but also calling for a more holistic approach to sugar reduction.
“To encourage healthy lifestyles and F&B choices, I support the upcoming SSB labeling system – but [it cannot be denied that] We need a more holistic approach [overall] F&B intake, including food, confectionery, etc., do not [just] Rieko Shofu, CEO of local beverage giant Pokka, told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Pokka has consulted with MOH and HPB about this upcoming SSB program. [and although we] do not deny [the scheme], we advise you based on [the wider] Industry and consumer perspective. “
Shofu added that Pokka’s portfolio will not be badly affected by the implementation of Nutri-Grade as the company has already reformulated to meet the requirements of the Healthier Choice Symbol program.
“A lot of Pokka products are classified as ‘Healthier Choices’ so we wouldn’t say [we are heavily ‘affected’] – But in accordance with the new classification and change in criteria for healthier choices, we have reformulated the required products [in our portfolio]”, She said.
Pokka is known for its RTD coffees, teas, and other sweetened drinks.
Other large manufacturers such as Yeo Hiap Seng (Yeo’s) have also focused heavily on reformulating the portfolio to adapt to the new regulations before they are implemented. Earlier this year, Yeo introduced both low-sugar and sugar-free variants of a classic chrysanthemum tea.
“Both consumer trends and government regulations are going in the same direction – everyone is concerned about the sugar content of foods and beverages, and I would say that sugar-free products in particular are a trend that is growing very strongly overall.” Angela Lu, CEO of Yeo in Singapore, told us beforehand.
Instead of replacing sugar with sweeteners as usual, Yeo chose to completely remove the sugar and offset this with an increased use of chrysanthemum flowers to enhance the fragrance and improve the mouthfeel. Interestingly, this step will likely help the Yeo zero as well. Variant of sugar to be classified as a Class A drink instead of being downgraded to Class B when artificial sweeteners are used.
Food Industry Asia (FIA) previously expressed concern that Nutri-Grade would lead consumers to make even more unhealthy choices.
“[The implementation of Nutri-Grade will mean] sudden shift in the sugar threshold [could] potentially lead to consumers opting out [reformulated] Products [and opting] for alternatives with the same or higher sugar content, ”said FIA Executive Director Matt Kovac.
“[Making it mandatory] Class C and D beverages can overwhelm consumers and lead to confusion about food and drink choices, such as: B. the classification of whole milk as class C. [can] create negative perceptions among consumers, despite scientific studies showing the benefits of consuming full-fat milk. “
Given that the draft regulations pushed the original decisions forward, the FIA has stated that the priority now is to ensure that certain categories such as dairy products are not overlooked and continues to call for greater government and cooperation Industry.
“While it is clear that the categorization of regular milk (full fat range) and juices (100% fruit juices) will not change, the FIA will continue to work with HPB to communicate the nutritional benefits of certain categories such as dairy products.” Edwin Seah, director of public affairs and policies for the FIA, told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“We are currently working with HPB on the publication date of the technical specifications for [this]and it helps that the introduction of the Nutri-Grade labeling scheme has been postponed to 2022.
“We see this as an opportunity [for industry to] Work with the government to raise awareness and educate consumers [and] I hope that the government will take due account of the contributions received.
“[This is important] To ensure that policies and regulations are fair and balanced, taking into account business needs, consumer choice and the government’s intended outcomes for the introduction of nutrition labeling. “
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