Saturday, November 4, 2017

How your home-based food business can participate in flea markets

We wrote about this before, and for the benefit of the multiple inquiries we've received lately on food products in our flea markets, we thought we should re-share this.

So If you are thinking of being a home-based food entrepreneur, and you're thinking of improving your business.  Here's what you can do:

In order for any merchants to sell food at flea markets, bazaars, trade fairs and events in Singapore, this is what you must know about Singapore regulations so that you do not violate them:

1. NEA Regulations pertaining to merchants selling food and food hygiene;
2. Restrictions of Home Base Business scheme;
3. Your Organiser's own operating policies

This is going to be wordy, but trust us you MUST know this if you are a food entrepreneur participating in flea markets and bazaars.

Under Section 35 of the Environmental Public Health Act, Chapter 95, no person shall promote, organise or stage any temporary fair, stage show or other such function or activity without first obtaining a permit from the Director-General of Public Health.


NEA is the final government organisation to give their approval before Organisers can be allowed to stage any temporary fair, stage show or other function or activity.

Before this permit can be issued by NEA, here are the documents from other government agencies / organisations  NEA must see that Organisers must produce:

Approvals from:
  1. Fire Safety & Shelter Department, SCDF 
  2. Site owner
  3. Neighbourhood Police Post / Centre (for set-up of carnival rides/game stalls, if any)
  4. Energy Market Authority (for use of generator, if any)
  5. Land Transport Authority (Road Management Department)
  6. Land Transport Authority (Development & Building Control Division, if fair site is within 40m of MRT station/ rail structure)
  7. National Parks Board (for use of grass verge/ roadside tables, if any)
  8. Consensus from neighbourhood shopkeepers

​The proof of consensus from shopkeepers in the neighbourhood should be in the form of:

  • Letter from neighbourhood shopkeepers’ association, or
  • Written agreement signed by neighbourhood shopkeeper, or
  • Letter from Advisor stating that the shopkeepers have given consent

All Organisers whether private or government entities must apply for this permit 2 weeks ahead, which means, the respective documents from points 1 to 7 must be provided and applied for, at least 1 month or so ahead before applying for the NEA permit. 


This is our compilation from public-domain information sources:

There are normally 3 types of food categories that are classified by NEA where it comes to food, trade fairs and events:

1. Pre-packed from licensed NEA source 

This refers to foodstuff that is packed and sealed in NEA approved premises.  Approved premises would be food factories, central kitchens, hawker stalls, bakeries, coffee shop stalls, restaurant kitchens and central kitchens. Home bakeries are not NEA licensed premises so therefore, disallowed.

All foodstuff from such approved NEA sources must also be properly labelled, including the date / time of expiry. 
For food that is packed by caterers or restaurants, the shelf life of the food is 4 hours and this too has to be labelled.

Foodstuff such as crackers, biscuits from Khong Guan, Oreo cookies are factory pre-packed and have proper labels.

If the pre-packed foodstuff to sell are imported, please ensure that these are imported by proper channels, including clearance from AVA. If you are buying from a supplier, please ensure that these are credible suppliers to protect yourselves.

2. Food prepared on the spot

This refers to food that is freshly prepared on-the-spot, such as Ramly Burgers you see at Pasar Malams, grilled sandwiches and coconut shakes, kebabs, satay, roti prata wraps etcetera.  A PUB water point connected to a sink and sewerage point is a must for each stall. (Imagine the of the costs involved to set these up),  because there is on-site food preparation and handling.

Food prepared on the spot must also have proper display casings, such as display chillers, food warmers, glass or transparent acrylic display shelves with doors.

​Please click the link below to see NEA's requirements from organisers in the application form:

3. Food that requires handling, for which you require a certified food handler

Food handling is a technical issue - it means when the server has to serve the food, e.g. taking a  bun from a steamer and putting it into the plastic is handling, scooping rice into a box is also handling, dispensing beverages from a bar gun, mixing cocktail drinks.are also handling. Using tongs, spoons, chopsticks, forks or spatulas to pack the food on site is also considered handling. 

Licensed food handlers are required to be at the stall to perform the food handling functions. To be licensed you need to attend a course on food handling and hygiene.

Here's a list

Please click the link below:.

The Home Based Small Scale Business Scheme by HDB and URA allows residents to carry out activities in their HDB and private residential premises to supplement their income. Under this scheme, residents can prepare small quantities of food for sale to their friends and relatives without turning their residences into a commercial outlet.

A licence is not required from NEA. Nonetheless, residents preparing food under the scheme can refer to these guidelines on good hygiene tips to adopt.

What this means: You can't sell to the public, so you can't participate in flea markets to sell.... BUT you can participate in flea markets to provide sampling of your products and introduce your own brand... as well as to make friends!  Get them to become your Facebook, Instagram, Wechat, Snapchat friends! And then you can sell to them thereafter.

As long as you understand what the above 2 points mean, you'll be able to participate in our flea markets and bazaars without breaking any laws or government regulation.


Now that you know what happens behinds the scenes for Organisers to ensure you are able to legitimately conduct your business without the risk of legal repercussions, we leave it to your own judgement on what Organisers tell when you ask them about participating in their markets, as well as make your own business decision on participation.

TGIF Bazaars requires interested and qualified participants to provide the necessary relevant supporting documentation before participation.

Sometimes, due to curation and managing conflicts of interest, the answer may not be what you had wished for.

Too wordy above?  Here's the above information in a diagram

Still too wordy?

Here's a summary if you want to participate in TGIF Bazaaars' markets

1. If you are selling commercial pre-packed food or snacks, you must produce proof of origin (i.e. paperwork that these products are produced in an NEA approved factory or licensed premise). You may also need to provide your own equipment to keep the pre-packed food in good condition.

2. If you are dealing with home-made food - You cannot sell such food products even though they are prepacked at our flea markets. 

BUT you can use our flea market to conduct market sampling, get them to like you on your facebook page, or as a point of collection for your friends who buy from you via social media or online or via apps such as or .   

You must have a valid food handling certificate.

3. Your participation is subject to curation, and final approval by the organizer and venue owner. You agree to indemnify the organizer and venue owner of any damages that may arise as a result of your participation. 

If you have further questions, please feel free to check with us, OR you can check with NEA directly.

The Team from TGIF Bazaars


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