More Healthier Hawker Dishes by 2019

The Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) latest effort in getting Singaporeans to choose healthy food may see four in 10 hawker stalls selling at least one healthier dish by 2019. This will mean almost doubling the proportion of such stalls that currently offer healthier choices. 

This move to identify healthier food in hawker centres is part of the Healthier Dining Programme, which began in June 2014 with restaurants and food courts. This comes as Singaporeans are getting heavier, according to a HPB study released last month which found that an adult weights 3kg more on average today than 15 years ago. 

To help diners identify lower-caloric dishes, the HPB has drawn up a list of 63 dishes that tend to be under 500 calories. Stalls with dishes checked and found to meet the calorie limit will be given a label that marks the dish as a healthier option. 

Of the 13,000 hawker stalls today, only 2,700 stalls, spanning over 60 hawker centres and 450 coffee shops, sell certified healthier options. 

Compared to the Healthier Hawker Food Programme rolled out in April 2011 that encourage hawkers to offer healthier versions of popular foods using healthier oil or less salt, the latest push takes a different tack by giving people information to make better decisions about hawker food. 

The former initiative was shelved as the scheme was “a very high-risk move for many of the hawkers, who had to change the recipe of dishes that had been developed over several decades” said HPB chief executive Zee Yoong Kang.

“We are not aiming to make every stall (one) that offers healthier options, or to make every item on their menus a healthier option” said Senior Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat on the latest scheme. Some dishes cannot be made healthier without compromising on taste, he added. 

Source: “More healthier hawker dishes on the menu by 2019” (The Straits Times, 10 July 2017)

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