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Frequently Asked Questions
Food Import & Export
Import & Transshipment Of Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
Import, Export & Transshipment Of Fish
Import, Export & Transshipment Of Irradiated Food
Import, Export & Transshipment Of Meat
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Export Certification for Processed Food
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Top 5 Most Popular FAQs
Why does SFA take such a strict stance against street hawkers who are just trying to make a living? They are clearly in need, so shouldn't the government provide them some assistance?
Unregulated street hawking poses a risk to public health and pollutes the environment. For this reason, street hawkers were relocated into purpose-built hawker centres with proper facilities in the 1980s. All hawkers and their assistants involved in the sale of food have to undergo training in the safe handling and preparation of food. In order to protect public health and safety, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) takes action against illegal hawkers who circumvent our regulations.
In 2017, the majority of the feedback received was on the illegal hawking of food items, which include fruits, otah-otah, and curry puffs. During the same period, enforcement action was taken against about 340 illegal hawkers for selling food items or goods such as household products, clothes and mobile phone accessories. However, the best deterrence against illegal hawkers is for members of the public not to purchase any items, regardless of whether they are food or non-food, from them. Food sold may be unsafe and products may be of inferior quality. Such vendors come and go, and cannot be found if buyers have problems with their purchase. Through choosing such modes of sales, these illegal street hawkers are in effect passing the risks to the unsuspecting consumer to bear.
A very small number of Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, subject to meeting the stringent eligibility criteria, have been given street hawking licences under the Street Hawking Scheme. They sell specific approved items, such as newspapers and phone cards; and are required to display their licences when conducting their businesses. They are also required to peddle their wares at fixed locations in public places, with the support of Town Councils, which decide on the designated locations in order to ensure that street hawking activities do not adversely affect residents, businesses and other stakeholders in the vicinity.
Street hawking may not always be the best solution for someone trying to make a living. In the long run, street hawkers are encouraged to adopt more sustainable options such as picking up new skills through the various government-funded training programmes and seeking employment, or operating from a proper stall in a hawker centre or other retail premises to secure a more stable repeat clientele. Any Singaporean who wishes to embark on hawking may rent a hawker stall from monthly tender exercises carried out by SFA.
Local illegal hawkers in financial difficulties are referred to social service agencies. They can also approach Workforce Singapore (WSG) Career Centres located island-wide for career and training advice and services to enhance their job search skills and employability. SFA also provides assistance with the stall application process if they wish to bid for a hawker stall.
SFA will continue to take firm and decisive action against any person who engages in any illegal hawking activity. We advise members of the public to report on illegal hawkers by writing to us via https://www.sfa.gov.sg/feedback. Those found illegal hawking may have their goods seized and be fined $300, $400 and $500 for the first, second and third offences respectively. Upon the fourth and subsequent offences, they will be prosecuted in Court.
Some restaurants, hotels and caterers claim that SFA's 'consume within four hours' rule doesn't allow customers to pack home leftover food to avoid food wastage. Is this true?
Food-borne pathogenic bacteria multiples quickly between 5 degC and 60 degC. If a cooked food item is contaminated with such bacteria, for example, as a result of cross-contamination, keeping that contaminated food item at such ambient temperatures for more than four hours could result in the bacteria multiplying to reach sufficient levels that could cause food poisoning when the food item is consumed. Hence, SFA requires all catered food to be time-stamped, and food that has been cooked more than four hours prior should not be served to consumers. The time-stamp informs consumers of the recommended 'consume by' time, which is set at four hours from the time a cooked dish is placed at the temperature danger zone of between 5 degC and 60 degC. If there had not been any contamination initially, the food may be safe to eat even after the recommended 'consume by' time. Consumers should thus exercise judgement should they decide to consume food past the stated 'consume by' time.
Establishments that prepare smaller portions of food and serve it within a shorter timeframe or upon order have a lower risk of food being kept for prolonged periods at such ambient temperatures. Some also have a final cooking step, such as blanching or frying, before the food is served. Hence, food that is cooked and served immediately to patrons at a food retail establishment is not subjected to the four-hour time stamping requirement. Consumers who wish to pack home leftover food should likewise exercise their own discretion before consuming the food.
To minimise food wastage, consumers are encouraged to only order what they can finish. Some tips to avoid over-ordering include reducing the portions of each dish if there is a variety of dishes served, or requesting for smaller portions of carbohydrate items such as rice or noodles. The public can refer to SFA's food wastage reduction handy guide, which is available online and provides useful tips on how to reduce food wastage at home, when eating out and when planning for events. Food businesses, such as food retail establishments, can also do their part to minimise food wastage by offering different portion sizes to their customers and suggesting smaller portions of carbohydrate items. Caterers can offer a single carbohydrate item on their menus or options of swapping out carbohydrate item for other dishes. To help businesses take action to reduce food wastage, SFA has developed food waste minimisation guidebooks for food retail establishments, supermarkets and food manufacturing establishments. The guidebooks can be downloaded at
Is it true that the sugar cane juice sold at hawker centres and foodshops is contaminated?
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) is unable to ascertain when the rumours on contaminated sugar cane juice sold at our licensed hawker stalls and foodshops first appeared, and would like to clarify that the message is unfounded.
However, SFA requires all cut sugar cane to be obtained from producers that have in place good manufacturing practices, as well as the relevant registration and certification from their exporting countries. The cut sugar cane must be cleaned, boxed and transported in covered vehicles. SFA advises foodshop operators selling sugar cane juice not to leave the cut sugar cane on the floor. Like all licensed foodshop operators, they should observe hygienic handling practices, such as washing the stem of the sugar cane thoroughly, so that the juice sold to members of the public at retail food establishments and food stalls is hygienic.
Should members of the public require further assistance, they can contact SFA via https://www.sfa.gov.sg/feedback.
Is it true that SFA has banned to sale of all ready-to-eat (RTE) raw fish dishes?
No. Retail food establishments which sell ready-to-eat (RTE) raw fish dishes can use saltwater fish which are intended for raw consumption. However, they cannot use freshwater fish in such dishes. The National Environment Agency (NEA) had banned the use of freshwater fish in all RTE raw fish dishes on 5 December 2015, as a further step to protect consumers from public health risks. This is because tests conducted by NEA and AVA have found such fish to have significantly higher bacterial contamination than saltwater fish, and are likely to present higher risks of infection when consumed raw.
As part of the requirements, all food stalls (hawker centres, coffeeshops, canteens, food courts) and food establishments providing catering services will have to submit proof to SFA that they can comply with the requirements for RTE raw fish dishes before they can resume the sale of these dishes, using saltwater fish. Restaurants can continue selling RTE raw fish dishes using saltwater fish, but will be required to meet the same stringent standards. SFA's data indicate that such fish sampled from restaurants have low levels of overall bacterial contamination.
SFA advises that all retail food establishments that sell RTE raw fish dishes are to source such raw fish from suppliers that adopt proper cold chain management and hygienic handling practices of the fish. Such practices should be adopted by all suppliers and retail food establishments, who should also practise proper segregation of fish intended for raw consumption from other raw food ingredients intended for cooking. Most fish sold at Singapore's wet markets, fresh produce section of supermarkets and fishery ports do not meet these conditions, and should not be eaten raw.
While investigations did not detect Type III GBS ST283 (the strain of GBS associated with the recent spike in human cases) in sashimi sold at retail food establishments, members of the public should note that there are always risks involved in consuming raw fish as harmful bacteria and parasites may be present. Should one choose to consume raw fish, the risk of food borne illness can be reduced by purchasing fish that are intended for raw consumption. Vulnerable groups of people, such as young children, pregnant women, elderly persons, or people with chronic illness, should avoid the consumption of raw fish.
Is it true that restaurants offering delivery, takeaway and catering services are to stop selling ready-to-eat (RTE) raw fish dishes using saltwater fish?
Restaurants that offer dine-in, delivery and takeaway services can continue to sell ready-to-eat (RTE) raw fish dishes using saltwater fish.
The catering arms of restaurants that offer catering services are however required to stop sale of ready-to-eat (RTE) raw fish dishes using saltwater fish, until they can submit proof to SFA that they can comply with the requirements for RTE raw fish dishes. This stop-sale requirement also applies to other food establishments providing catering services and food stalls (in hawker centres, coffeeshops, canteens, food courts).
The catering arm of restaurants are required to stop sale until approved by SFA because of their higher-risk operations given the large amount of food prepared in advance and storage of the food for a period of time before consumption. With the large volume and varied cooking processes needed, the threat of cross-contamination is high.
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