Singapore Eases Antimicrobial Restrictions, but Issue is a Growing Concern for U.S. Meat Industry

Singapore's Imports of U.S. beef, pork and poultry Earlier this year, Singapore implemented broad restrictions on the use of antimicrobial agents for all meat and poultry imports. The regulations limit antimicrobial use to the following eight products:
  1. Acetic acid
  2. Blend of lactic acid, citric acid and potassium hydroxide
  3. Ammonium hydroxide
  4. Citric and Hydrochloric acid solution adjusted to pH 0.5-2
  5. Lactic acid
  6. Sodium hypochlorite
  7. Calcium hypochlorite
  8. Peroxyacetic acid

This week Singapore exempted processed meat and poultry products from its antimicrobial restrictions, but retained the policy for fresh meat and poultry imports. USMEF is still trying to determine if the restrictions still apply to raw materials used for processing.

“The exemption for processed meat products is a step in the right direction,” said USMEF Technical Services Manager Travis Arp. “We are hopeful that Singapore also intends to exempt raw materials used to produce processed meats, but we don’t yet have a definitive answer on that issue. Exempting raw materials would expand the buying ability of Singapore’s meat processors and reopen some important business opportunities for U.S. exporters.”

Arp explained that with the exception of the European Union, Singapore’s policies on antimicrobial use are the most restrictive in the world. It is currently the only non-EU market in which antimicrobial restrictions create obstacles for U.S. exporters – and these obstacles are severe enough to prevent many packers from serving Singapore.

“The inability to use acidified sodium chlorite, which is widely used in both the red meat and poultry industries, is a major setback for U.S. companies,” he said. “We are also concerned about other widely utilized compounds that must be discontinued by any company exporting to Singapore. These products are so critical to food safety that many packers would rather exit the market than stop using them.”

While the U.S. industry currently faces few restrictions in the international marketplace, antimicrobial policies are a growing concern and an area that USMEF is monitoring carefully.

“There is certainly a heightened level of concern about regulators from larger markets exploring new restrictions on antimicrobial agents,” Arp said. “It is important that we convey to our trading partners that these products are not only safe to use, but also have considerable food safety benefits. Restricting their use only increases consumers’ meat costs and does nothing to improve food safety.”