SINGAPORE: The company that runs Giant supermarket said on Monday (Oct 26) it is ensuring advertising claims prohibited by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) are not visible on its products.
This comes after CNA found redacted advertising on the packaging for Cheerios 100 per cent wholegrain oats. The words “can help lower cholesterol” had been covered with a translucent white sticker, but were still visible.
“We are ensuring that the claims are not visible by double layering the stickers,” a spokesperson from Dairy Farm, which runs the Giant and Cold Storage outlets in Singapore, told CNA. .
According to Singapore’s food regulations, food products – unless permitted – must not be labelled or advertised to have any therapeutic or prophylactic actions. They must not advertise that they can prevent, alleviate or cure any disease or condition affecting the human body.
In addition, the labelling or advertising cannot say that consumers can achieve health or improved physical condition by eating the product.
“Food businesses importing prepacked food with claims not allowed under the Food Regulations, may remove the claims by striking them out or by means of sticker labels,” an SFA spokesperson told CNA last Thursday.
“Food businesses should ensure that the unpermitted claims are not visible to consumers at the point of sale.”
When asked specifically about the visible claims on the Cheerios cereal sold at Giant, SFA confirmed last Friday evening that it was investigating.
The Dairy Farm spokesperson said it is standard practice in supermarkets to cover up non-compliant claims.
“At Dairy Farm, if a product contains multiple non-compliant claims, we will stop carrying the product for consumer safety and welfare,” the spokesperson said.
“We have not received any feedback from customers regarding (the Cheerios cereal in question) so far.”
Under the Sale of Food Act, it is prohibited to sell any food that is labelled or advertised in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its value, merit or safety.
First-time offenders can be fined up to S$5,000, and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, fined up to S$10,000 and/or jailed up to three months.
“The industry is responsible to ensure that any food labelling claim complies with the requirements of the Sale of Food Act and Guide to Food Labelling and Advertisements,” SFA said.
“The industry should refer to SFA’s Guide to Food Labelling and Advertisements which contains detailed information on food labelling and advertisements.”