As consumers, we all expect our food to be safe. However, food can potentially become contaminated through improper practices from the time it is produced to the time it is consumed. The assurance of food safety requires the combined effort of the government, the food industry and the consumer.
The number of food-borne disease outbreaks has been increasing around the world. Annually, about 1.5 billion cases of food-borne disease outbreaks are reported, resulting in 3 million deaths globally.
Singapore enjoys one of the lowest incidences of food-borne disease outbreaks compared to the rest of the world. This is despite the fact that more than 90% of all food consumed here is imported.
How did we manage to escape many of the food-borne disease outbreaks that plague other countries?
Very simply, Singapore observes stringent food safety standards. As the national authority for food safety in Singapore, SFA has put in place an effective integrated food safety system to ensure that food is safe for consumption.
However, no system is foolproof without the collaboration of the industry and consumers in Singapore. We handle and consume food in one way or another. As such, the assurance of food safety is a shared responsibility.
Safety Assurance for Food Establishments (SAFE) Framework
The Safety Assurance for Food Establishments (SAFE) framework is an integrated licensing framework to provide better food safety assurance to consumers.
Under the framework, food establishments across retail and non-retail food establishments that have demonstrated good track record of food safety assurance (i.e. no major food safety lapses over a stated period of time) and have in place capabilities and systems to ensure better food safety and hygiene standards (e.g. appointment of Advanced Food Hygiene Officer, implementation of Food Safety Management System) will be eligible for longer licence durations and higher award tiers.
The SAFE framework provides a better representation of the food establishments’ consistent efforts in ensuring and maintaining food safety. Under the SAFE framework, food establishments that have demonstrated good track record of food safety assurance and have in place capabilities and systems to ensure better food safety standards will be eligible for longer licence durations and higher award tiers. For example, premises under Category A (food establishments involved in significant food handling practices, such as caterers) would be required to implement the accredited Food Safety Management System (FSMS) and to appoint a trained Advanced Food Hygiene Officer (FHO) to assist putting in place, monitor and maintain proper food safety assurance measures/systems in order to achieve a Gold award.
A recognised FSMS under the SAFE framework include SS 444, SS 590, ISO 22000, FSSC 22000 and BRC Global Food Standards (BRCGS). A requirement of the Gold Tier is that the FSMS is certified by a Certification Body, which is:
- Accredited by Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC) for ISO 22000, SS 590 and SS 444; or
- Accredited by accreditation bodies who are signatories of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) multilateral recognition arrangement (MLA) for ISO 22000 and FSSC 22000; or
- Accredited by BRCGS-recognised accreditation bodies who are signatories of the IAF MLA.