Singapore

10 companies get grant to product healthier food

Ten companies have received grants totalling $5 million from the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to create healthier staple foods, about five months after it launched a scheme to subsidise such production.

Under the Healthier Ingredient Development Scheme, the companies will produce staples with healthier ingredients, such as wholegrain and brown rice in noodles - without compromising the taste and texture - and substituting palm oil products with lower saturated fat options.

The scheme, which was launched in July, will see the HPB committing $20 million over three years.

Giving an update on the scheme yesterday, HPB chief executive officer Zee Yoong Kang said that the current take-up rate among noodle manufacturers is very low, at about only 2 per cent.

AIM: 10% BY 2020

"With products like noodles, there is more of a challenge than with oil, because there is a change in taste and texture. However, HPB is determined to get the market penetration level to 10 per cent by 2020," he said.

The participating companies will conduct research and development aimed at creating healthier products that taste as good as the traditional options, he added.

The HPB said that for every bowl of white rice, if consumers replace one-fifth with brown rice, they can reduce the risk of type two diabetes by 16 per cent.

Dr Annie Ling, HPB's director of policy, research and surveillance, said: "About 80 per cent of Singaporeans eat at least one portion of noodles a day. Over many years, the amount consumed is considerable and, as such, the cumulative impact of replacing the noodles with healthier options is significant."

CONSUMER ISSUES