Most Singaporeans love bubble tea, even though it’s not the healthiest drink.
Looking at you, 120% sugar bubble tea lovers.
After all, ignorance is bliss. We often turn a blind eye to how unhealthy our bubble tea can be.
However, it will be tough to ignore the sheer amount of sugar in your bubble tea soon.
Nutri-Grade Labelling to be Applied to Freshly Prepared Beverages like Bubble Tea
From end-2023, Nutri-Grade labelling requirements and advertising prohibitions will be mandatory for freshly prepared beverages under specific settings.
According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), the measures will be implemented to reduce the population’s sugar intake further.
After all, freshly prepared beverages are another significant and growing source of sugar in our diets.
MOH’s list of such beverages includes freshly brewed coffee or tea, freshly squeezed juices, freshly blended smoothies, bubble tea, freshly prepared herbal drinks, and beverages dispensed from machines.
It’s the way MOH had to explicitly mention our beloved bubble tea in its list.
There will even be a declaration mark for additional toppings on freshly-prepared beverages.
These new measures will be applied to freshly prepared and existing Nutri-Grade beverages sold in settings like F&B outlets, catering establishments and hotels, workplaces, educational institutions, healthcare institutions and childcare facilities.
There’s no escaping the Nutri-Grade label.
However, MOH and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) will provide a concession to small businesses that involve selling or supplying freshly prepared Nutri-Grade beverages.
The business must have earned less than $1 million in the last financial year to be exempted.
In addition, the business must sell or supply such beverages at fewer than ten food premises.
These concessions are to ensure a smoother transition in the implementation of Nutri-Grade labels on freshly prepared beverages.
Furthermore, owners of such businesses may not have the resources to determine the grading of their beverages.
So, you probably won’t see a Nutri-Grade label on your favourite beverage from that one obscure neighbourhood bubble tea shop… for now.
The Nutri-Grade grading system is based on the beverage’s sugar and saturated fat content.
Such beverages must be graded “A”, “B”, “C”, or “D”, with “D” being the grade with the highest sugar content.
If the beverage is graded a “C” or “D”, it will be required for the Nutri-Grade mark to be labelled next to beverages listed for sale, for instance, on physical or online menus at the point of purchase.
However, labelling will be optional for beverages graded an “A” or “B”.
If you thought the Nutri-Grade label was too complicated to read, here’s some news.
A simplified Nutri-Grade mark has been developed and will be placed next to the individual beverage listings.
The simplified label is much easier to read now. Here’s a comparison:
Information on freshly prepared Nutri-Grade beverages must be available to anyone who wants to see it.
Furthermore, advertisements promoting the sale of freshly prepared Nutri-Grade beverages graded “D” will be prohibited.
Aims of Nutri-Grade Labelling
It may be a bummer to be aware that your favourite freshly-prepared beverage is so unhealthy, but there’s a good reason for these measures.
With the introduction of Nutri-Grade measures, we can now make more informed and healthier choices since we are now aware of which beverages have higher levels of sugar and saturated fat.
These measures also reduce the influence of advertising on consumer preferences.
Maybe it’s a sign to be more aware of our beverage choices.
The first rollout of the Nutri-Grade Mark occurred on 30 December 2022.
Initially, Nutri-Grade beverages included those pre-packed in bottles, cans, cartons or packets; powders or concentrates like 3-in-1 instant coffee beverages and cordials and beverages dispensed from automated beverage dispensers.
The measures were first announced in October 2019.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung previously mentioned that Nutri-Grade is part of the Government’s efforts to win the fight against diabetes.
Diabetes is a major public health concern in Singapore.
According to Mr Ong, one in three individuals are at risk of developing diabetes in their lifetime.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires daily medication for the rest of your life in order to keep it under control.
If not kept under control, the disease can develop into worse symptoms like blindness and may even result in amputation, kidney dialysis and premature death.
It is estimated that by 2050, about one million Singaporeans will be living with diabetes.
MOH has seen an encouraging increase in the sales of beverages that would have been graded “A” and “B”, rising from 37% in FY2017 to 71% in FY2021.
MOH has encouraged consumers to limit their intake of “C” and “D” graded beverages.
Thus, you should probably think twice before getting that 120% sugar bubble tea.
If you want to learn more about Nutri-Grade, visit HealthHub here.
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Featured Image: moh.gov.sg + gowithstock/ Shutterstock.com
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