SINGAPORE - There have been four cases of fruits and vegetables illegally imported here from January to April this year, with enforcement action taken against the companies responsible.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, the Singapore Food Agency said on Saturday (June 1) that there were 16 such cases in 2018 and 62 in 2017.
Figures for the first four months of this year suggest that there is no particular sharp increase or decrease in such cases, and the numbers appear to be on track to reach a similar number of cases in 2018, for now.
The latest company to fall foul of the law over this was fined $6,000 on Wednesday for illegally importing more than 2,000kg of fresh vegetables from Malaysia.
Harborlift Fresh Food was found with six types of undeclared vegetables, weighing a total of 1,219kg, in November 2017, the SFA said in a statement.
Officers from the former Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, which had its food-related functions brought under the new SFA on April 1, also later found two types of under-declared vegetables, amounting to 750kg, in the consignments of vegetables imported from Malaysia.
SFA said another two types of vegetable, weighing 181kg , which Harborlift had previously been suspended from importing from Malaysia, were discovered in the same consignment.
The illegal consignments were seized and destroyed.
In the statement, the authority said illegally imported food products could pose a food safety risk as they are from unknown sources.
In Singapore, food imports must meet the SFA's requirements and food safety standards.
This means that food can only be imported by licensed importers and every consignment must be declared and accompanied with a valid import permit, SFA said.
About a week ago, two importers were fined $3,000 each for the same offence.
Those found guilty of illegally importing food face up to three years' jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.
An SFA spokesman said on Saturday that retailers must obtain their vegetables from licensed importers and should contact the authority if they encounter suspicious sources.
She added that fresh fruits and vegetables may be subjected to inspections at the point of import - such as at the checkpoint, Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre and importer's premises - to ensure compliance with food safety standards and requirements.
Samples may also be taken for food safety tests, said the spokesman.