After the announcement by Singapore’s Minister of State for Health, Edwin Tong, on the 10th October 2019 on the introduction of a mandatory Front-of-Pack label for packaged sugar-sweetened beverages , it has been announced that drinks with high sugar and/or saturated fat contents will be required to display a “Nutri-Grade” label with grades ranging from A to D (healthiest to unhealthiest) from end-2021 onwards. Retailers may only advertise D-grade drinks at the point of sale. This means that D-grade drinks will be completely banned from advertising on all media platforms. This same measure will next be applied to freshly prepared drinks, i.e. bubble teas, smoothies and so on.
This goes towards fulfilling the first three of four main measures introduced by the Ministry of Health (MOH) last year, i.e.:
- Greater Informed Choices for Consumers
- the “Nutri-Grade” label on pre-packaged and freshly-prepared non-alcoholic drinks allows the public to discern between healthier and less healthy beverages.
- Reducing Advertising Influence
- Complete banning of advertising D-grade drinks on all media platforms.
- Acceleration of the drink manufacturing industry’s reformulation efforts in reducing sugar content in sugary drinks
- With the implementation of the grading label, manufacturers of sugary drinks will be incentivised or pressured to reformulate their sugary drinks to make them healthier to avoid falling into the unhealthy bands of C and D.
- Discouraging consumption of sugary drinks
- It is envisaged that by increasing the awareness of the nutritional level and by lowering the influence of advertisements of sugary drinks, it will discourage the consumption of sugary drinks amongst the public.
- Additionally, the government has been increasing the number of water dispensers throughout Singapore. To this end, water dispensers will be made available at all hawker centres, as well as more than a dozen bus interchanges and terminals by mid-2020.
The advertising ban on Grade D drinks will make Singapore the first country in the world to implement this measure.
If however, after a couple years the situation does not improve, the Singapore government is prepared to implement a “sugar tax” which has been implemented in some other countries.
By: Denise Mirandah
A version of this article first appeared on the GALA Blog. For more information, please visit http://blog.galalaw.com/.