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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Buy more local produce, it's fresher: AVA

An AVA staff member demonstrating a freshness test on a locally produced egg. Farms under the AVA's Singapore Quality Egg Scheme will have their eggs stamped with the farm's code and production date.
The Straits Times - June 22, 2011
By: Huang Lijie
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Buy more local produce, it's fresher: AVA ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN

CONSUMERS are being urged to buy more local produce by the food safety watchdog.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said farms in Singapore have to meet its stringent quality and production rules.

And their food is fresher because it does not take as long to get the produce to customers.

Buying more of their produce will spur them on to increase production and ensure the country has a buffer against any potential shortages of imported food items such as eggs, fish and vegetables.

Yesterday, the AVA said it was tightening the guidelines for its quality assurance scheme for locally farmed eggs in a bid to boost consumer confidence.

Egg farms under the Singapore Quality Egg Scheme now have to implement a system that will allow them to trace and recall produce quickly.

This involves stamping the farm's code and the production date on eggs.

The farms also have to put in place a system that will enable them to immediately recall and remove eggs from retail outlets when necessary.

At the launch of the revised scheme yesterday, AVA chief executive officer Tan Poh Hong said: 'If consumers were to get an egg with a code on it, they get the confidence that the farm is prepared to vouch for its quality and freshness.'

Farms under the scheme are also subject to rigorous checks by the AVA, such as monthly inspections on egg quality and freshness.

Those which fulfil the requirements of the revised scheme can label their products with the scheme's new logo.

All three egg farms here - Chew's Agriculture, Seng Choon Farm and N & N Agriculture - are in the revised scheme.

Last year, 93,600 tonnes of eggs were consumed in Singapore. More than 70 per cent were imported from countries such as Malaysia, New Zealand, the United States and Japan.

Seng Choon Farm's managing director Koh Yeow Koon, 35, said it has increased egg production from 300,000 eggs to 400,000 a day since moving into a larger farm in 2009.

He added: 'We can still expand our production but it will depend on whether Singaporeans support us and buy local eggs.'

Price-conscious consumers may pass on local eggs because they are at least 30 per cent more expensive than eggs from countries such as Malaysia. These local eggs, however, boast benefits such as lower cholesterol or added vitamins.

Housewife Chua Lee Kor, 66, said: 'I could never tell the difference between local and Malaysian eggs and I would buy whichever was cheaper.

'But the new logo for local eggs helps me spot them easily and I would like to try them soon to see if they live up to their claim.'

The AVA aims to raise local egg production from the current 23 per cent of Singapore's total egg supply to 30 per cent in a few years.

It has already been working to raise local fish production from 4 per cent to 15 per cent of the total fish supply and local leafy vegetable production from 7 per cent to 10 per cent of the total supply, by helping local fish and vegetable farms increase production capacity.



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