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Friday, September 29, 2023
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SG COMPANY SOLD FOOD FALSELY LABELLED AS “HALAL” TO HALAL ESTABLISHMENTS, FINED

Yocorn Food Enterprise Pte Ltd (Yocorn) and its director, Wang Lijun, were fined $35,000 and $20,000 respectively, under the Wholesome Meat and Fish Act 1999.

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Yocorn, a licensed food importer, was found selling smoked duck falsely labelled as “Halal” to the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura’s (MUIS) halal certified food establishments.

In addition, Yocorn had sold a partial consignment of frozen fish products before inspection, examination, and certification by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

Sale of falsely labelled smoked duck

In June 2019, MUIS detected a dubious Halal certificate for smoked duck purportedly issued by ARA Halal Certification Services Center Inc (ARA), a halal certification body based in China. The smoked duck was imported from China by its sole distributor, Yocorn. ARA confirmed to MUIS that the Halal certificate was false and was not issued by them.

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Subsequently, in August 2019, MUIS officers visited Yocorn, and its director, Wang Lijun, claimed to be unaware of the false Halal certificate. Upon MUIS officers’ advice, Wang Lijun agreed to stop representing its smoked ducks as “Halal” and to remove all false “Halal” logos from the product packaging.

MUIS kept the matter in view and monitored closely on the possible purchase of smoked ducks by MUIS Halal certificate holders. There was no subsequent purchase of smoked ducks from Yocorn by MUIS’ Halal certificate holders detected until June 2020, albeit with a different ARA Halal certificate. MUIS did another verification with ARA, which again confirmed that this Halal certificate was also false and not issued by them. MUIS visited Yocorn again and instructed them to cease representing and selling its smoked ducks as “Halal”.

In both instances, when the false Halal certificates for smoked ducks were detected, MUIS informed its Halal certificate applicants to either dispose or return their stock of smoked ducks, and to source for alternative Halal certified products. MUIS also issued a similar memo to all its Halal certificate holders regarding the false ARA Halal certificates for imported smoked ducks.

MUIS reported the matter to the SFA on 24 June 2020. On 3 July 2020, following MUIS’ report, SFA found 4455 packets of smoked ducks weighing 4,009.5kg with “Halal” labels at Yocorn’s premises. Wang Lijun had continued to sell non-halal smoked duck products as “Halal” despite MUIS’ instruction not to do so almost a year earlier. In December 2021, SFA completed its investigation and charged Yocorn under the Wholesome Meat and Fish Act 1999.

Labelling Requirements

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Every packet of meat, fish and seafood product must be clearly marked, and date labelled to ensure traceability. Anyone found guilty of an offence shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.

Every packet of meat, fish and seafood product must also be labelled in the prescribed manner and must not be labelled with any information which is false, inaccurate or misleading. Anyone found guilty of an offence shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both, and, and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or to both.

Sale of fish products prior to inspection

On 3 Feb 2022, Yocorn had imported 692kg of frozen sliced smoked salmon trout from China and sold over 109kg of the consignment before inspection, examination, and certification by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

In Singapore, upon import of meat and fish products, importers must arrange for these products to be inspected, examined and certified by an authorised examiner before it is sold, distributed or exported. Meat and fish products which are found to be unfit for human consumption will be seized and disposed.

Offenders who fail to arrange for their meat and fish consignments to be inspected, examined and certified by an authorised examiner before sale or distribution are liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both. Offenders who had sold their meat and fish consignments which had not been inspected are liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years.

SINGAPORE FOOD AGENCY
MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA
17 July 2023

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