Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Safety of Lab-Grown Food by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Dr Lim Wee Kiak : To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) whether laboratory-grown food options will eventually constitute a significant component of food security in Singapore; (b) what are the plans to make such food options more affordable for the masses; (c) how is the safety of these food options assessed; and (d) what is the Government’s stand on concerns that such food products are made of artificial ingredients and safety for long-term consumption has not been established.
1 The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) adopt a multi-pronged strategy towards ensuring Singapore’s food security, including import source diversification and growing more locally.
2 Novel foods such as cultured meat, and plant-based alternative proteins, have the potential to contribute to our “grow local” strategy. However, given the nascent nature of the industry, it is too early to determine how significant a component it will be. The mainstreaming of innovative foods would depend on various factors including the pace of technology advancement, development of safety standards, production costs and level of consumer acceptance. The cost of alternative proteins is likely to become more competitive in time as the technology, manufacturing processes mature, and its market share grows. In Singapore, companies can tap into our well-developed agri-food innovation ecosystem to resolve scientific and technical hurdles, and scale up manufacturing capacity for Singapore and the region.
3 Even as we facilitate the growth of the novel food industry, the safety of food consumed in Singapore remains a top priority. SFA subjects all novel food to a rigorous safety assessment framework before they are approved for sale. Companies seeking to introduce novel food must first submit information such as the ingredients used, manufacturing processes and risk management plans. SFA then conducts a comprehensive review to identify if there are any potential food safety risks, with advice from a multi-disciplinary group of experts and reference to published scientific literature. Only novel foods that have addressed the food safety concerns and comply with food safety standards in the Food Regulations will be allowed for sale.
4 In Apr 2021, Singapore launched the Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH), to drive food safety research and development, which included research into understanding the long-term safety of novel food. SFA will continue to work closely with local and international partners to keep its novel food regulatory framework up to date and ensure that novel food is safe for consumption.