Singaporean officials recently provided an update on the proposed national Food Safety and Security Bill, which was first introduced in 2021 and aims to provide greater clarity on the regulation of novel food innovations, such as cultured meat, while preventing foodborne illness.
The updates were revealed during a keynote speech presented by Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Alvin Tam on October 31, 2023 at the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit, as well as in a speech by the Singapore Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, Grace Fu, at the opening of the country’s new National Center for Food Science on October 27, 2023.
Singapore, the first country to approve the sale of any cultivated meat product, aims to execute a number of initiatives that would provide greater legal clarity for novel food innovations like cell-based meat and gene-edited crops, better ensure the safety of novel and traditional foods by enhancing the requirements for food safety systems and processes, and increase food security by mandating rice suppliers to keep a stockpile of the staple grain. If passed, the bill would combine eight existing food provisions into a single food safety act. In her speech, Ms. Fu stated that the bill is set to be tabled, but the timeframe is unknown.
Additionally, the new Singapore National Center for Food Science combines the Singapore Food Agency’s two existing food safety and science labs, and streamlines operations, improves accessibility for inspectors to submit samples for testing and provides greater accessibility for external collaborations and industry partnerships. The center will serve as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Food Contamination Monitoring, with the goal of preventing and managing foodborne illness outbreaks through technologies like whole genome sequencing (WGS). The center will also continue its efforts to test seafood imported from Japan for radioactive contamination, in light of Japan releasing wastewater from a closed nuclear plant.