Oral Reply to Parliamentary Question on standardising date-labels for food by Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment
Ms He Ting Ru: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment whether the Ministry will consider updating and standardising “use by” and “best before” date-labels for food to reduce confusion over whether food needs to be disposed of for safety reasons and hence reduce food waste due to the confusion.
1 Both “Use by” and “Best Before” are internationally accepted terms under the Codex General Standard for the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods, and commonly used by food manufacturers locally and overseas. The Codex is the international food standards body established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.
2 Standardising the use of date-marks to a specific term will require the industry to tailor their packaging to the Singapore market, adding to compliance burden. This may result in additional packaging costs which the industry pass on to consumers. Given the small size of the Singapore market, overseas food manufacturers may also choose not to change their packaging to meet Singapore’s requirements. This could inadvertently reduce our food import sources.
3 Under the current Food Regulations, “Use by” and “Best Before” are both used to indicate the expiry date on food products, beyond which the food product is not permitted to be sold in Singapore due to possible deterioration in food quality.