Singapore Standard (SS) 687: 2022 (Guidelines for food e-commerce) was launched at the Singapore Manufacturing Federation’s Singapore Innovation and Productivity Institute (SIPI) Food Tech 2023 event recently to provide guidance to e-commerce players on their roles and responsibilities related to food safety.
Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment mentioned that SS687 covers key stages, best practices, and activities critical for the food e-commerce industry to ensure the safety of food products sold via online platforms.
In 2021, approximately 2.5 million consumers used online food delivery platforms to purchase their food products in Singapore, a 14% increase as compared to 2020.
The standard was jointly developed by a multi-stakeholder Working Group comprising Food Industry Asia (FIA) and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), in partnership with the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) and various industry players such as local food e-commerce platforms, food delivery platforms, and supermarket retailers. The Working Group was appointed by the Singapore Standards Council (SSC), overseen by Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG).
Currently, different food e-commerce and delivery platforms have varying practices in ensuring traceability, safety and transparency of the food products that are sold through them. As more Food Business Operators (FBOs) move their sales activities to such platforms, there is a need to have a common understanding of industry best practices for the management of online sales of food products, so that FBOs can provide consumers with greater assurance on the reliability of their food products and services. By implementing this standard, FBOs such as online food businesses/sellers, ecommerce platform providers and food delivery companies may gain greater clarity in the respective roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders throughout the different stages of the food e-commerce supply chain.
Meanwhile the new standards will also address standardisation of information to be displayed at points of sale and delivery; responsibilities of food traceability; and ownership of managing potential exigencies such as consumers’ complaints, food safety incidents or food recalls.
SS687 also aims to improve end consumers’ experience in the following areas:
a) Improve the online food purchasing experience for end consumers by strengthening the credibility and trustworthiness of food e-commerce platforms and FBOs.
b) Improve food safety by encouraging each stakeholder within the food e-commerce supply chain to conduct the necessary due diligence through the proper implementation of food safety practices as part of their operations (e.g., displaying food product information online, standardised food traceability and product recall procedures, etc.)
The new standard SS687 will provide consumers with greater confidence and provides them with better informed purchasing decisions, while at the same time provides businesses with the recommended guidelines that can be implemented in business models to ensure greater transparency, traceability and accountability when selling food online.
Choy Sauw Kook, Director-General (Quality & Excellence), Enterprise Singapore said, “SS687 complements existing food safety standards, by providing guidelines that are specific to the safe handling and sales of food products online. The new standard provides clear guidelines on the respective roles and responsibilities for FBOs, food e-commerce platform providers and food delivery companies during different stages of the food ecommerce supply chain. It will also improve food traceability and recall mechanisms to improve the online ordering experience for end consumers.”
Matt Kovac, CEO, Food Industry Asia (FIA), said that Singapore is the first country to develop such a comprehensive set of voluntary guidelines, and hence SS687 could be utilised by other authorities to help inform best practices for industry.
The new SS687 guideline can be purchased from the Singapore Standards eShop at www.singaporestandardseshop.sg