Singapore Food Agency to Replace AVA
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) will be formed on 1 April next year and it will take over any food-related work which is currently being conducted by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).
The SFA is set to oversee matters related to food safety and security in Singapore, as accounted by the Government on 26 July. SFA will be a statutory board which will come under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR). SFA is set to replace the roles of AVA, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).
The aim of the SFA is to deal with the global food supply challenges which are causing by climate change. According Masagos Zulkifli, he Minister for Environment and Water Resources, SFA will also look at seizing global opportunities in the food industry. SFA plans to work closely with industry, research and development partners to help develop new products and solutions, including climate-resilient farming solutions and better, more advanced food manufacturing techniques.
SFA will be in charge of managing any food-borne disease outbreaks and coordinate product tracing and recall. The department will also be in charge of helping food businesses streamline their licensing processes, and assist any individuals who may need help contacting the relevant authorities for their needs.
Different licenses from NEA and AVA
While currently food retailers looking to expand their operations in the food supply chain require different licenses from NEA and AVA, beginning next April all licenses will only be obtained from SFA, which helps to reduce the need for operators having to deal with different agencies
All animal-related functions, including animal welfare which is currently being handled by AVA will be reassigned to the National Parks Board (NParks) under the Ministry of National Development (MND). This move will involve the reorganization of about 1,150 staff, according to an MND spokesperson.
Approximately 300 AVA staff will be moved to NParks, while the new food agency will consist of about 850 staff, and 600 of these staff will be from AVA, 220 from the NEA and 30 from the HSA.
As part of the changes, NParks is slated to become the lead agency for animal and wildlife management, animal and plant health. NParks will become a one-stop service for Singaporeans and stakeholders when it comes to animal management and animal welfare related issues, manage human-animal interactions, and improve the detection of and response to zoonotic diseases.
On top of that, NParks will have a new Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) which will be in touch with pet owners, businesses and other animal welfare groups.
For other matters relating to food safety, public feedback will be directed to the SFA come next April.