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Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Subject to Mandatory Health Level Labeling in Singapore

Sugar-sweetened beverages sold in Singapore must indicate the nutrition level on the package, which is mainly graded by the sugar content. Singapore will totally ban the advertisement of high-sugar drinks on mass media. Singapore has the second highest rate of diabetes among developed countries

On Oct. 10, 2019, Singapore Ministry of Health promulgated that prepackaged sugar-sweetened beverages are mandatorily required to indicate nutrition level labeling on the package front side [1]. There will be 4 or 5 nutrition levels mainly graded by the sugar content and distinguished through various colors. This policy is applicable to all beverage sold in Singapore, including soft drinks, juice, instant drinks, yogurt etc.

This new labeling requirement was developed based on the French labeling mechanism in which beverages are graded from A to E levels, where “A” indicates the healthiest (in green) and E suggests the unhealthiest (in red).

Additionally, Singapore banned the advertisement of E-level beverages (the unhealthiest) on mass media, including television, network, paper media and outdoor public places. With the implementation of this new policy, Singapore will become the first country that totally prohibited the advertising of high-sugar drinks. Although similar regulation is also implemented in other countries, this is the first outright ban without exceptions or exemptions.

The authority hasn’t announced the grading standard yet, and the detailed measures will be promulgated in the first half year of 2020. These new regulations are expected to be carried out in next 1 to 4 years.

Regarding this issue, Coco-Cola replied to CNN that they were willing to accept this new regulation and hoped negative impact would be minimal [2]. 7 local beverage giants including Coca-Cola Singapore, YEO'S and Pokka have previously promised that the sugar content of their beverage will be no more than 12% by 2020 [3].

Singapore has the second highest rate of diabetes among developed countries. Under the previous policy and market environment it was projected that in the future half the population of Singapore would fit diabetes diagnostic criteria. To avert this huge disaster the Singapore Ministry of Health made 4 major proposals primarily aimed at reducing sugar consumption:

MeasuresPublic vote rate
Mandatorily indicate the health level labeling84%
Totally ban the advertisement of high-sugar beverage71%
Levy sugar tax65%
Prohibit the sale of high-sugar drinks48%

Sugar taxation and prohibition of sugary drinks are also being considered but given the comparative lack of agreement on the topic they are still being researched.

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