Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Labelling for Ractopamine by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Labelling for Ractopamine at Hawker Centres
Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment whether the Ministry will consider requiring sellers of packaged food products to state on their product labelling as to whether their products contain meat from animals that have consumed ractopamine in their feed.
Ractopamine is an additive that is used in animal feed to promote growth in approved food animal species, namely pig and cattle, which are raised for their meat for human consumption. Feed additives are commonly used in livestock farming to improve production efficiency and can include other additives such as vitamins and minerals.
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has adopted the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) standards for the maximum residue limits for ractopamine found in meat and other organs that are imported or sold in Singapore. The Codex is the international food standards body established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), which aims to protect consumers’ health and ensures fair practices in food trade. The maximum level of ractopamine allowed in muscle, kidney and liver for both pig and cattle are 10 µg/kg (microgram per kilogram), 90 µg/kg and 40 µg/kg respectively. Based on the safety assessments done by Codex’s scientific expert panel, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and SFA, the intake of ractopamine through residues in meat and other organs within the regulated limits poses no risk to health, even if the meat and other organs are consumed over a long period of time. Many other countries including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and Canada have adopted similar limits for ractopamine as Singapore.
Food manufacturers and traders in Singapore must comply with SFA’s food safety standards and requirements, which takes reference from international standards such as those set by the Codex. These standards include labelling requirements for pre-packed food products which facilitate traceability, and enable consumers to make informed and safe food choices, especially for consumers with specific dietary restrictions such as allergies that could trigger life-threatening reactions. While SFA requires pre-packed food products to be labelled with a statement of ingredients, where “ingredients” refer to any substance used in the manufacture or preparation of a food and present in the final product, SFA does not require the declaration of agricultural inputs such as feed and fertilizers as ingredients. This approach is in line with international practices.
Nevertheless, food manufacturers and traders of meat and meat products are required to ensure that their food comply with the regulatory standards, including the maximum residual limits of any agricultural inputs that may be carried over to the final food products. Thus, from a food safety perspective, there is no need to impose an additional requirement for sellers to state on their packaged food whether the meat was from animals that had consumed ractopamine in their feed. SFA will continue to review its regulations where necessary to safeguard food safety and public health.