Only too often there is an unstated misconception that only capitalist countries in the west have a need for a healthier food drive. Too often we think of eastern and Asian countries being more concerned with the issues of malnutrition than obesity. Certainly, Wealthy countries more than Asia are more likely to be facing situations where the abundance of food is abused both by businesses and consumer, but Asian countries are also aware of the new sciences and innovations which dictate how food intake can affect our bodies. The choice is now there to eat healthily.
Asian food production
The Asian food industry is to a large extent based on its agricultural production. If you are from the West it is likely you may visualize the Asian community as living off the land and their harvest still being greatly controlled by the environment by the weather. The fact is in most Asian countries are catching up with the West in terms of technology, capitalist approaches and the import and export trade.
Therefore, a wider variety of food products are available to the consumer, production processes are much more streamlined, and the amount of food provided to the populace is more consistent as it is not so dependent upon environmental factors. With all of these changes and improvements, Asian countries have a much better chance to choose what they are eating. They can plan to eat healthier if they wish to. Singapore is one country which is taking up the mantle.
Singapore attitudes to healthy eating
The consumer always determines which products are required within any market place and there is no doubt that Singaporeans take a proactive part in eating healthier. A recent survey by Food Industry Asia (FIA)1 found that 98% of those surveyed were looking for ways to improve their diet. To complement this attitude, it is also clear that Singaporean consumers are using information on food products to determine sugar levels, and the presence of nutritional ingredients in order to eat a balanced diet.
The Healthier Choice logo introduced by the government in Singapore makes choosing nutritional food even easier for the consumer. This symbol (below) appears on those food products which are considered to be healthier options.
Singapore business reformulating products for healthy eating
The need for healthier products has led to the new government initiatives and businesses in Singapore reformulating the ingredients within their products to meet consumer demand. The FIA survey showed that 80% of local and international food and drink companies were in the process of reformulating their food products in order offer a healthier product, while 16% were planning to do so.
Healthy eating government initiative affects all
This new drive for healthier food and a greater choice of healthier for foods available for Singaporeans should not mask the fact that there still families on low income who struggle to put food on the table for their families. But the government is also behind a programme which aims to help out here too. In April 2018 the Health Promotion Board (HIB) released it’s first set of guidelines for charities, voluntary organisations and private donors which are meant to ensure families on low wages also have the opportunity to eat in a more healthy way.
Recommendations include having at least one item from each of the five main food groups – staples, oils, meat and alternatives, dairy and alternatives as well as fruit and vegetables – in each donation pack. At least one product in each of the food groups should also have the healthier choice symbol. A food pack that meets the required guidelines will get HPB’s healthier choice endorsement.
Let’s start with education
Education has to be fundamental to the failure or success of the government drive for healthier food consumption in Singapore and the most vulnerable members of the public have not been forgotten. The Singapore Ministry of Education has announced that cooks and kitchen staff providing school meals must be trained by a nutritionist re healthy cooking methods.
Singapore Food Festival!
We often think of eating healthy as being synonymous with boring food and restricted eating. But Singaporeans love their food and the Singapore Food Festival which is on between 13th July and the 19th July should not be missed. The festival is as glorious as ever with top local chefs to especially on hand to showcase the very best of Singapore cuisine – whether healthy or not!
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