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Mandatory sugar level labels for bubble tea pearls, whipped cream

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 From Dec 30, drink toppings such as pearls, jellies, ice cream and whipped cream must be labelled with a declaration of their sugar content as part of new requirements covering the sale of freshly prepared beverages.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) previously said it will be extending its Nutri-Grade requirements to cover freshly prepared drinks such as coffee and bubble tea by end-2023. The latest announcement on Friday sets out additional details.

The Nutri-Grade system comprises colour-coded grades from A to D, with D containing the highest sugar and/or saturated fat content.

Under current measures, pre-packed beverages and non-customisable, dispensed drinks sold at retail outlets have to be labelled. Such labelling is optional for those with A or B grades. Retailers are not allowed to advertise D-graded drinks.

By the year end, the rules will apply to drinks that are sold not just by food outlets and caterers, but also in non-retail settings such as workplaces, schools and healthcare institutions.

When the measures extend to freshly prepared beverages and toppings at the end of 2023, physical and online menus will have to carry the Nutri-Grade label.

MOH said Nutri-Grade measures are part of its long-term strategy to reduce sugar intake in the population by shaping consumer behaviour.

Before introducing the extension of labelling regulations, the MOH and the Health Promotion Board said they sought feedback from more than 3,000 industry stakeholders from February to March 2022.

“Ahead of the implementation date, some businesses, such as food courts and quick service restaurants, have already reformulated their freshly prepared beverage offerings or labelled them with the Nutri-Grade marks,” MOH said.

However, sellers and suppliers of freshly prepared drinks whose revenues did not exceed $1 million in the latest financial year, and who supply such drinks to fewer than 10 food outlets, will be initially exempted from implementing these measures.

Those who fail to comply with the new measures face a fine of up to $1,000. For subsequent offences, those convicted may be fined up to $2,000.