As part of the Government’s ongoing efforts to create a healthier environment for Singaporeans, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will introduce a ban on partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) as an ingredient in all foods, including fats, oils, and pre-packaged foods sold in Singapore, whether manufactured locally or imported, from June 2021.


This is an ingredient ban that will cover all foods, excluding:

1. Products that are not foods, such as: 

  • Health Supplements
  • Health Products
  • Medicinal Products
  • Controlled Drugs

2. PHO as processing aids in food processing plants


Two year runway to comply with the measure; to reformulate products of source for alternative PHO-free products. 


6 June 2019 - Announcement of PHO ban

~ June 2020 - Promulgation of PHO ban (An update will be provided by authorities before the promulgation of the ban.)

~ June 2021 - PHO ban to be effective



WHAT CAN YOU DO?

ManufacturersRetailers & Importers/Distributors 
  1. Ensure ingredients used in food manufacturing do not contain PHO
    • Check product specifications from suppliers
  2. Ensure that ingredient listing of food product is compliant with Food Regulations
  3. Reformulate affected products
    • Alternatives such as saturated fat, unsaturated fat (e.g. sunflower and canola oil) and high-oleic oils are available
    • Recommended to use healthier alternatives e.g. high oleic oils
  1. Ensure that food products which are imported/distributed/retailed do not contain PHO by checking ingredient listing
  2. Inform suppliers in own supply chain about the PHO ban



FAQs

Q: Will both locally manufactured and imported products that contain partially hydrogenated oils be affected by the ban?
A: The ban on PHOs will cover all food products for sale in Singapore, whether manufactured locally or imported, once it takes effect.

Q: What are the food categories that will be affected by the ban? What percentage of the market will be affected by the ban? Which brands will be affected? How many companies will be affected? What is the profile of the affected companies? 

A: The ban will apply to all foods, including fats and oil, sold in Singapore. PHO is traditionally used in food products to enhance their taste and extend their shelf life. With advancements in food technology, there are now many alternatives available that can deliver similar attributes. Examples of these alternatives are fully hydrogenated oil, or oils such as sunflower and canola oils. As such, many of these products are already PHO-free today.


Q: Do partially hydrogenated, hydrogenated, or fully hydrogenated oil mean the same thing?

A: The level of hydrogenation determines the amount of the trans fat generated in the oil or fat. Fully hydrogenated oil (FHO) is more solid than PHO, and doesn't contain trans fat. However, that doesn't mean it is healthy, as it still contains saturated fat. PHO is in a semi-solid state and contains up to 60% of trans fat by volume. On product packaging, fully hydrogenated or hydrogenated oil generally refer to the same thing.


Q: Are foods for the export market (i.e., not sold within Singapore) affected by the ban?
A: Discussions are still ongoing whether or not to subject export-only products to the PHO ban. More information will be provided in due course.

Q: Can I still use PHO for lubricants and processing aids in food manufacturing?
A: PHO-containing processing aids may be used in food manufacturing provided they do not result in PHOs (or the trans fatty acids they contain) being present in the food or food ingredient. If the use of PHO-containing processing aids results in PHOs, or trans fatty acids, being present in the food, such food will fall within the scope of the PHO ban. It is recommended that manufacturers switch to alternative processing aids that are PHO-free to reduce the chance of the food product being contaminated with trans fat of PHO.

Q: Is it mandatory to declare NIP on food products?
A: NIP declaration, along with declaration of trans fat content, is mandatory for fats or oils. For other pre-packaged foods, NIP declaration is voluntary. However, ingredients listing is mandatory for all food products, as per Food Regulations (Part III, Regulation 5)

Q: What kind of ingredients must be declared?
A: Manufacturers are to declare the ingredients used in the food products as stated in the Food Regulations (Part III, Regulation 5)

Q: Will there be any changes to the "trans fat free" claim?
A: The 'trans fat free' claim can currently still be used.

Q: How will the products in the market be audited for presence of PHOs? Will the audit be done across all food categories, and how frequently will the audit be conducted?
A: Market surveillance will be conducted on an ongoing basis.

Q: How are companies expected to prove that their products do not contain any PHOs? Are there any lab tests available for PHOs?
A: Suspected food products will be sent for lab testing to determine its trans fat levels. The company that distributed, retailed, or manufactured the product may, amongst other things, will be required to produce documentation, such as the product specification sheet and certificate of analysis (COA), to prove that the fats or oil used during the manufacturing process does not contain PHOs. Factory checks may be conducted to look into the ingredients used (fats and oils used). We will sample the oils or fats used during the manufacturing process and check for iodine value (IV) of oils or fats. IV is a test routinely used by the oil industry to identify the degree of saturation and is typically checked in every hydrogenation batch of oils. PHO has an IV greater than 4, while fully hydrogenated oil gas IV 4 or lower.

Q: Will there be any penalties levied on the manufacturer or importer if they breach the regulation?
A: More details will be provided closer to the promulgation of the PHO ban around June 2020.

Q: What happens at the end of the 2 years?
A: In June 2021, there shall be no more PHO-containing foods available for consumers to purchase. It is up to the retailers/importer/distributors to work together with the manufacturer to plan out the timeline to clear existing stock (i.e., products that still contain PHO).



RESOURCES

PHO banVisit: www.hpb.gov.sg/transfatban
Email: transfatban@hpb.gov.sg

Enterprise Development Grant Support

Visit: https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/financial-assistance/grants/for-local-companies/enterprise-development-grant/overview
Contact: Angelin Yeo - Senior Development Partner (Food manufacturing)
6279 3818 or food_division@enterprisesg.gov.sg