In Singapore, food hygiene is monitored by the National Environment Agency (NEA). All food retail businesses must be registered to the NEA and regulated by the organization to prove that any food sold or produced by the food retail businesses is safe for consumption (retail businesses include restaurants, cafes, and more but excludes hawker centres).
The NEA grades food service establishments based on personal and food hygiene and housekeeping of the premises. The grade must be displayed somewhere within the premises where it can be visible to the public. This is a method for the NEA to encourage establishments to improve their grade by adopting better practices. The assessment of the premises by the NEA results in the following grades:
A – a score of 85% or higher
B – a score of 70% to 84%
C – a score of 50% to 69%
D – a score of 40% to 49%
In order to help food service establishments to improve their cleanliness, the NEA has published the Food Handler’s Handbook and other practices and guiding materials.
Points Demerit System (PDS)
The PDS system is used in order to establish precedence for revoking licenses. Offences are categorized as minor, major and serious. Offences lead to demerit points. If an establishment collects 12 demerit points within 12 months, the establishment can be suspended for 2 to 4 weeks or its license can be revoked based on previous records. However this is a general guideline. The punishment differs for the type of establishment. For example, coffeeshops, food courts and canteens that accumulate 12 points over 12 months will be suspended for three days. Here is a detailed list of offences and the demerit points that they cost.
The term food handlers refers to any person who is directly involved with food preparation: like the chefs, sous chefs, kitchen assistants, staff that handles beverages. Food handlers need to be registered by the NEA. As the owner of the establishment, you need to register all food handlers by filling up this form and submitting it to the nearest Regional Office. To find your nearest Regional Office, you must call 1800-2255 632 (1800-CALL NEA). In order to qualify as a food handler, a basic food hygiene course must be completed. The Food & Beverage Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) takes 6 hours of course work and 1.5 hours of assessment. Upon completion of assessment, the food handles will be given a Statement of Attainment. There are 2 subsequent refresher training sessions after 5 years and 10 years. The details on refresher training are on this page.
Food Safety Management System (FSMS)
The FSMS is used to ensure that manufacture, distribution and storage of food is safe for consumption. Every food service establishment must have an FSMS plan. The components of the plan are the following:
1. FSMS Plan
a. Flow diagram: with Critical Control Points identified
b. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points: charts for Critical Control Points (CCPs)
2. “WSQ Apply Food Safety Management System for Food Service Establishments” Certificate (Statement of Attainment)
For more information on the FSMS and the requirements for your FSMS plan, click here. The link also gives information on different rules for new caterers and caterers that need to renew their license.
Finally, the NEA along with Spring Singapore has created a Singapore Standard for food service establishments so that they can make their FSMS plans by referring to the guideline. The guideline is $42 and can be purchased here. The process of creating the FSMS plan involves a workshop which includes 14 hours of course work and 5 hours of assessment.
That sums up the brief introduction to food hygiene regulations in Singapore. Hope that helps!