HONG KONG: Food Safety Ordinance to come into effect tomorrow
Posted: July 31st, 2011 - 1:33pm
Source: HKSAR Government
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The Food Safety Ordinance (Cap. 612) will commence tomorrow (August 1). It introduces a food tracing mechanism to help the Government trace the source of food more effectively and take prompt actions when dealing with food incidents.
A Government spokesman said today (July 31) that the foodtracing mechanism would include a registration scheme for food importers and food distributors and a record-keeping requirement.
There is a six-month grace period for the penalty of the registration requirement and the record-keeping requirement, which ends on January 31, 2012.
"The Ordinance requires food importers and food distributors to register with the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene (DFEH). As a trade facilitation measure, importers or distributors who have already registered or have obtained a licence under other ordinances listed at Schedule 1 of the Food Safety Ordinance are exempted from the registration requirement.
They include holders of various food-related permits or licences issued by DFEH; marine fish farmers licensed with the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation; owners of Class III fishing vessels licensed with the Director of Marine; and registered stockholders of rice registered with the Director-General of Trade and Industry," the spokesman said.
Food producers such as fish and vegetables farmers who sell their produce on a wholesale basis are also within the definition of "food distributors", and are therefore required to register. Similarly, food manufacturers who sell their products by wholesale should also register.
Registration by food importers and food distributors can be made starting from tomorrow with the Food Importer/Distributor Registration and Import Licensing Office of the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) by fax (2156 1015), in person, online (www.foodsafetyord.gov.hk) or by mail (Room 119, 1/F, 258 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong). The registration fee for a period of three years is $195.
Registration is subject to renewal.
The Ordinance also requires food traders to maintain records of the movements of food. Any person who, in the course of business, imports, acquires and supplies by wholesale food in Hong Kong must keep transaction records of the business from which the food was obtained and the business to which it was supplied. Importers, distributors and retailers are required to keep all food import and local acquisition records.
Importers and distributors also have to keep records of wholesale supply of food. Food retailers (including caterers) who only supply food to ultimate consumers by retail are only required to keep acquisition records. Fishermen who capture local aquatic products and supply them in Hong Kong are required to keep capture records.
Vegetable farmers who distribute their produce must also keep records of the relevant wholesale supplies of food.
"For live aquatic products and food with shelf life of three months or less, records should be kept for three months. For food with shelf life over three months, records are required to be kept for 24 months.The record-keeping period for different food types has been provided for general reference in a Code of Practice issued by DFEH under the Ordinance. Food traders may obtain copies from the CFS office or browse the Ordinance website (www.foodsafetyord.gov.hk)," the spokesman said.
Upon the expiry of the grace period on January 31, 2012, any person who does not register but carries on a food importation or distribution business commits an offence and is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.
Those who fail to comply with the record-keeping requirement are liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for three months.
Furthermore, the Ordinance will empower the Secretary for Food and Health to make regulations on import control for specific food types so as to regulate high-risk foods. The Administration already submitted the proposed import control on poultry eggs to the Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene of the Legislative Council in May, and plans to table the proposed regulation at the Legislative Council for vetting by the end of 2011.
For more information, please visit the Ordinance website (www.foodsafetyord.gov.hk) or call the Food Importer/Distributor Registration and Import Licensing Office at 2156 3017 or 2156 3034.