RESPONSE TO COMMENTS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE FOOD REGULATIONS REGARDING MAXIMUM LIMIT FOR INORGANIC ARSENIC IN HUSKED RICE
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) initiated a public consultation exercise for the period 31 July 2017 to 29 September 2017 on the proposed amendments to the Food Regulations regarding maximum limit for inorganic arsenic in husked rice. Feedback was sought from stakeholders (rice importers and food manufacturers) on the following:
I. Whether the husked rice imported by the company is able to comply with the new proposed maximum limit of 0.35 ppm inorganic arsenic.
II. Whether the company would be able to find alternative sources should their imported husked rice be unable to comply with the new proposed maximum limit, and the estimated timeframe required to do so.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is seeking feedback from stakeholders (rice importers and food manufacturers) on proposed amendments to the Food Regulations concerning the maximum limit for inorganic arsenic in husked rice.
Maximum limits for incidental constituents, commonly termed “contaminants” are specified under the Food Regulations. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, and is present in many foods due to absorption from the soil and water. In order to safeguard consumer health, maximum limits for arsenic in food are specified under the Food Regulations.
Rice, in particular, takes up more arsenic than other foods, and due to its high consumption, can contribute significantly to arsenic exposure. Inorganic arsenic is the more toxic form of arsenic and long-term dietary exposure can cause cancers and skin lesions.
The current limit, specified under the Tenth Schedule of the Food Regulations is 1 ppm of total arsenic for “Other food not specified above [in the Schedule]”. Husked rice is included in this category.
In 2017, AVA amended the Food Regulations to include a maximum limit for inorganic arsenic in polished rice, to better protect consumer health. Following the adoption of the maximum limit for inorganic arsenic in polished rice, AVA proposes to adopt a new limit of 0.35 ppm for inorganic arsenic in husked rice. The proposed new limit is consistent with the maximum limit of 0.35 ppm (inorganic arsenic) adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission1 in 2016. The proposed new limit will ensure that consumers are better protected from overexposure to arsenic.
The proposed new limit will apply to husked rice (brown rice or cargo rice) imported under the following HS codes:
HS Code Description
10062010 Thai Hom Mali husked or brown rice
10062090 Other husked or brown rice
Once the amendments take effect, husked rice containing inorganic arsenic at levels exceeding the new limit will not be allowed for import into Singapore for sale or use as ingredients in food manufacturing.
1 The Codex Alimentarius Commission is the international food standards setting body formed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Request for comments
AVA invites views and comments on:
i. Whether the husked rice imported by your company is able to comply with the new proposed maximum limit of 0.35 ppm for inorganic arsenic.
ii. Whether your company would be able to find alternative sources should your imported husked rice be unable to comply with the new proposed maximum limit, and the estimated timeframe required to do so.
Procedure and timeframe for submitting views and comments
AVA welcomes views and comments on the above proposal. All submissions should be clearly and concisely written, and should provide a reasoned explanation for any proposed revisions. Submissions should reach AVA no later than 6:00 p.m., 29 September 2017, through mail, or email (preferred), to the following addresses:
Regulatory Programmes Department
Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore
52 Jurong Gateway Road #14-01
(Attention: Mr Cheng Chee Seng)