'AVA certificate' for instant hotpot products containing meat is fake, importers fined and products seized

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has fined importers of instant "self-heating" hotpots that contain meats.

They have also seized the products.

"AVA has not approved the import of instant hotpot products containing meat such as Ba Shu Hotpot," it said in a statement to The Straits Times today (Oct 9).

"As AVA did not approve these products for sale, the 'AVA certificate' circulating online is fake."

Ba Shu Hotpot or Ba Shu Lan Ren, a Chengdu-based instant hotpot brand is the latest food craze to hit Singapore.

It comes in several mala flavours including original, rice and meat, and beef.

They are being sold online on e-commerce websites like Qoo10 and Shopee Singapore.

The instant hotpots come with a heat pack that is activated by room-temperature water to produce enough heat to steam the bowl of ingredients for up to 20 minutes.

AVA advised the public to be wary when buying food online and it is safer to purchase food from a reputable source:

"Food products containing meat can be imported from only approved sources that comply with AVA food-safety standards and requirements, as these products could carry animal and food-borne diseases of public health and trade importance.

"Licensed food importers are required to ensure that the food products comply with the AVA's food-safety requirements and standards, regardless of the channel of sale."

Those convicted of importing food from unapproved sources can be fined up to $50,000 and/or jailed for up to two years for the first conviction.

In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, they can be fined up to $100,000 and/or jailed for up to three years.