Hong Kong Fact Sheets Food and Environmental Hygiene by alicejenny



Food and Environmental Hygiene
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD)                 Imported Food and Food Animals Control: Food
was set up on January 1, 2000. The department is                and food animals control offices are set up at Man Kam To,
responsible for food safety control, import control on live     Lok Ma Chau, Lok Ma Chau Spurline, Lo Wu, Sha Tau
food animals, management of food incidents as well as           Kok, Hong Kong International Airport, Wholesale Food
environmental hygiene services and facilities.                  Markets at Western District and Cheung Sha Wan to
     The FEHD delivers its services through the Centre for      monitor the safety of imported food.
Food Safety, Environmental Hygiene Branch, and                       Import requirements for food and live food animals
Administration and Development Branch.                          are imposed for public health reasons. Live food animals
                                                                and certain high risk imported food like milk, milk
Centre for Food Safety: The work of the Centre for Food         beverages, frozen confections, game, meat and poultry
Safety is to ensure that food available for human               are governed by subsidiary legislation of the Public Health
consumption is wholesome, hygienic, safe and properly           and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) and the
labelled; to safeguard public health through testing and        Public Health (Animals and Birds) Ordinance (Cap. 139).
control of live food animals; and to advise the public on       Import of milk, milk beverages, frozen confections, game,
risk management measures in relation to food and public         meat and poultry is confined to sources recognised by the
health matters. It also provides secretarial support to the     department. Staff of the Veterinary Public Health Section
Expert Committee on Food Safety, established to advise          perform quarantine and inspection on food animals at the
the centre in the formulation of food safety measures and       Man Kam To Animal Inspection Station.
review of food safety standards in the light of international        Food Surveillance Programme: In line with the best
practices, trends and developments.                             international practice, the food surveillance programme
     The centre comprises three divisions: Food                 has all along been based on risk assessment and scientific
Surveillance and Control Division, Risk Assessment and          evidence. Under the food surveillance programme, about
Communication Division, and Administration Division.            65 000 samples are taken each year for chemical and
     The Food Surveillance and Control Division is the          microbiological testing to safeguard public health. The
operational arm charged with the responsibility of              findings enable prevention and timely control of food risks.
enhancing food safety assurance. Its major aspects of           Compliance with regulatory requirements on food safety
work include food surveillance and food labelling               and labelling is also monitored through this programme.
inspections, and enforcing safety control on imported food.          Food surveillance reports are released to the public
The division consists of the Risk Management Section,           regularly. Clear explanations and interpretation are given
Veterinary Public Health Section, Slaughterhouse                to enhance risk communication with the public.
(Veterinary) Section, Food Import and Export Section,                Risk Assessment: Risk assessment provides the
Food Surveillance and Complaint Section and Food                scientific basis for risk management and risk
Chemistry Section.                                              communication. Laboratory researches conducted by the
     The Risk Assessment and Communication Division is          Food Research Laboratory provide support to the risk
the research and development arm charged with the               assessment studies, research work and total diet study
responsibilities of conducting risk assessment and              conducted by the centre. Scientific data for risk
providing food safety information to the public as well as      assessment so obtained will be made use of in the
the food industry. The division consists of the Risk            formulation of food safety control strategies.
Assessment Section, Risk Communication Section and                   Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)
Food Research Laboratory Section.                               Based Food Safety Plan: Another means of achieving
     The Administration Division provides administrative        food safety is through the promotion of HACCP Based
support to the centre.                                          Food Safety Plan. It is a scientific and proactive approach
     Risk Management: The centre monitors food                  in enhancing food safety. It emphasises the analysis and
incidents, both local and overseas. The Risk Management         control of critical points along the food chain, followed by
Section assesses the local impact, takes appropriate            continuous monitoring and corrections wherever
follow up actions and assists in the coordination of            appropriate. Since prevention is better than cure, HACCP
immediate response to food incidents taking into account        Based Food Safety Plan provides the greatest food safety
the risks involved and the local situation. The section in      assurance. The centre continues to introduce and promote
collaboration with the Centre for Health Protection of the      the HACCP principles to the food trade.
Department of Health investigates outbreaks of food
poisoning and food borne infectious diseases in food            Environmental Hygiene Branch: The Environmental
premises, identifies the contributing factors in the            Hygiene Branch is responsible for the implementation and
outbreaks and assists in tracing the source of suspected        co-ordination of environmental hygiene services,
food. It also educates food handlers about food, personal       management of public markets, hawker control and
and environmental hygiene.                                      licensing matters.
      The branch consists of a Headquarters Division and           Food and Other Trades: The FEHD is the licensing
three Operations Divisions. The Headquarters Division is       authority for food businesses (namely restaurants, food
responsible for formulating departmental policies and          factories, bakeries, fresh provision shops, factory canteens,
guidelines on environmental hygiene services, licensing,       siu mei and lo mei shops, frozen confection factories, milk
market management and hawker control. It advises the           factories, cold stores, composite food shops and sale of
Liquor Licensing Board on liquor licensing matters and         restricted foods), certain trades (namely places of public
provides secretarial support to the board. It also processes   entertainment, commercial bathhouses, private swimming
applications for review to the appeal boards.                  pools,     funeral     parlours,    undertaker     businesses,
      The three Operations Divisions are responsible for       slaughterhouses and offensive trades) and operating karaoke
monitoring and management of environmental hygiene             establishments in restaurants in Hong Kong. The FEHD
services in all districts throughout Hong Kong.                performs regular inspections on licensed and permitted
      Public Cleansing: The FEHD provides cleansing            premises to ensure licence and permit holders comply with
services, including street sweeping, household waste           licensing requirements and conditions as well as the law. As
collection and other cleansing work, by both the in-house      at the end of 2011, there were 29 502 licensed and permitted
workforce and cleansing contractors involving a total of       food premises, 1 507 licensed other trade premises and 82
10 100 frontline operatives. For achieving greater             karaoke establishments in restaurants.
efficiency and cost-effectiveness, the department has                Public Markets: As at the end of 2011, the FEHD
continued to contract out public cleansing services. At        operates a total of 77 public markets and 25 free standing
present, 74% of household waste collection service and         cooked food markets, with around 14 400 stalls selling
76% manual street cleansing service have been                  foodstuffs and a whole range of clothing and daily
outsourced.                                                    necessities. The department is vested with the
     All streets are manually swept at least once every day.   responsibility of properly managing these markets and
In the main commercial and tourist areas, streets are          keeping these markets tidy. Promotions are also
swept an average of four times a day, and up to eight          conducted in selected markets to improve their business
times a day in the busiest pedestrian areas.                   atmosphere.
      In addition to manual sweeping, there are seven               To enhance the vibrancy of public markets, the FEHD
mechanical sweepers from the FEHD contractor                   has introduced service trades, snack shops and bakeries
responsible for the cleaning of highways, flyovers and         to certain markets with vacant stalls since mid-2009. At the
central dividers. FEHD and cleansing contractors have a        end of 2011, 67 service trade stalls, seven snack stalls
total of 102 street washing vehicles which operate day and     and one bakery stall were let out.
night with the frequency of street washing ranging from on           Hawker Control: The FEHD is responsible for hawker
need basis to at least twice weekly depending on the           management and control in Hong Kong. There are, in
nature of the area served. On gully emptying, the FEHD         essence, two categories of hawker licences: fixed pitch
maintains both in-house staff and contractor’s fleet to        hawker licences and itinerant hawker licences. As at the
operate seven gully emptying vehicles to provide regular       end of 2011, the number of fixed-pitch and itinerant hawker
service. The FEHD and its contractors operate a total of       licences were 6 190 and 262 respectively in the urban area,
241 modern refuse collection vehicles. Every day, about        and 290 and 243 respectively in the New Territories. The
5 160 tonnes of household waste are collected from over        Food and Health Bureau and the FEHD completed a
3 200 FEHD refuse collection points and bin sites and          hawker licensing policy review in 2009. The FEHD had
other collection points in residential estates all over the    continued to implement the proposals resulting from the
territory. They are taken to the refuse transfer stations or   review concerning re-issue of certain categories of hawker
landfills managed by the Environmental Protection              licences which include 61 new Itinerant (Frozen
Department (EPD).                                              Confectionery) Hawker Licences, and 218 Fixed Pitch
      In support of the Government’s Policy Framework          (Other Classes) Hawker Licences for on-street vacant
for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-             hawker pitches. The FEHD also relaxed the restrictions on
2014), the FEHD provides recyclables collection                the transfer of licences, number of tables and stools, etc. for
service for the 3 303 sets of recyclables collection           nine cooked food stalls called “Dai Pai Tongs” in Central to
bins provided in schools, government clinics, public           help preserve them as part of Hong Kong’s local heritage.
places and various venues under its purview as well as               Hawker Control Teams are deployed to control illegal
that of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation            hawking activities and to minimise nuisances created by
Department, Leisure and Cultural Services Department           street trading either by hawkers or by illegal extension of
and EPD. Each set of the bins comprises three individual       shops into the street area. The district Hawker Control
bins for the collection of waste paper, metal and plastic      Teams consist of 191 squads (125 in Hong Kong and
materials.                                                     Kowloon and 66 in the New Territories), including the
      Public Toilets: Altogether 659 public toilets come       Hawker Control Task Force which comprises 27 squads
under the department and about 41% of the toilets with         (15 in Hong Kong and Kowloon and 12 in the New
high usage rate are provided with toilet attendants. In        Territories). The task force mounts special operations at
addition, there are 187 aqua privies in the New Territories    major hawker black spots and augments hawker control
and outlying islands. In order to upgrade old public toilets   work in the districts. It also works a special overnight shift
to the latest standard of provision, the FEHD has              to tackle illegal hawking activities during the late-night and
embarked on a toilet refurbishment programme. So far,          early-morning hours.
242 projects have been completed. To improve the                     Slaughterhouses: The FEHD is responsible for the
sanitary condition of aqua privies, the FEHD has been          monitoring of slaughterhouses to ensure that their
implementing a programme to convert aqua privies into          operations meet the required hygiene and environmental
flushing toilets by phases since 2005. So far, the             standards. There are three licensed slaughterhouses,
conversion of 319 aqua privies has been completed. We          namely Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse, Tsuen Wan
plan to complete the final phase of the conversion             Slaughterhouse and Cheung Chau Slaughterhouse, with a
programme by the end of 2013.                                  total daily throughput of about 4 260 pigs, 78 cattle and 36
      Enforcement: The Government enforces against             goats. Veterinary officers deployed to work in the
common cleanliness offences (i.e. littering, spitting,         slaughterhouses are responsible for the monitoring of the
unauthorised display of bills or posters and fouling of        health condition of food animals and the examination of
street by dog faeces) by issuing fixed penalty notices of      drug residues. While field officers stationed at the
$1,500 to offenders. A “zero tolerance” approach is            slaughterhouses conduct body fluid and tissue sampling of
adopted in the enforcement.                                    food animals for testing and perform ante-mortem
inspection, health inspectors inspect food animals after                education garden, a resource centre holding a collection of
slaughtering; monitor the operation of slaughterhouses                  over 6 000 items of publications and a lecture room. The
and arrangement of meat delivery, etc., so as to ensure                 CRU houses an exhibition hall, public and trade corners as
only meat fit for human consumption is released for sale in             well as a multi-purpose room. It has a rich collection of
the market.                                                             resource materials with local and international flavours on
     Pest Control: Pest control work, such as the control               food safety and pest control for the reference of the public.
of rodents, mosquitoes and other arthropod pests with                        The two units support a wide range of health
medical importance, is carried out by both the FEHD in-                 education services including holding public exhibitions and
house and contractor pest control teams. It aims to                     seminars, and providing publications and audio-visual
prevent and control the breeding of disease vectors. The                materials for reference. The CRU focuses on organising
methodology in pest control is continuously reviewed to                 various food safety programmes and providing support to
ensure effectiveness and efficacy in controlling the                    members of the trade and the public with a view to
disease vectors. The Pest Control Advisory Section                      enhancing food safety. It also provides lending service
provides professional advice on the prevention and control              for audio-visual learning/teaching aids to organisations
of public health pests to government departments and the                and schools.
public.                                                                      Public Education and Publicity: Public education
     Cemeteries and Crematoria: The FEHD serves the                     and publicity play an important role in the FEHD’s activities
public by providing services on cremation and burial of                 and initiatives, forming part of an integrated approach to
body and skeletal remains. It operates six government                   ensuring food safety and improving environmental hygiene.
crematoria, 11 public cemeteries and eight public                       Messages promoting “Keep Clean”, “Food Safety”,
columbaria, and oversees the management of 28 private                   “Nutrition Labellling”, “Anti-rodent” and “Anti-mosquito” are
cemeteries.                                                             disseminated through various channels, such as television
     In addition to the above traditional burial services,              and radio Announcements in the Public Interest, posters
FEHD also promotes sustainable ways of handling                         and banners, pamphlets and leaflets, departmental
cremains by encouraging the public to scatter ashes of                  website, outreach programmes, school talks, seminars,
their ascendants in its eight Gardens of Remembrance or                 workshops, exhibitions, Mobile Exhibition Centre (a
at designated Hong Kong waters. It also provides the                    publicity vehicle), two broadcasting vans equipped with TV
Internet Memorial Service website and its mobile version                and LED panel, etc. Educational and publicity efforts are
for the public to pay tribute to the deceased and to show               also directed at various target groups, e.g. members of the
condolence to their lost loved ones at any time and from                food trade, students, the elderly, ethnic minorities, etc.
anywhere.                                                                    For trade collaborations, the Centre for Food Safety
                                                                        has put in place a regular Trade Consultation Forum and
Administration and Development Branch: The                              other ad hoc meetings with the trade for risk
Administration and Development Branch is responsible for                communication on food safety issues. The centre has set
departmental administration, including staff management                 up a Food Safety Charter and invites food trade
and development, financial management, information                      associations and licensed food premises to be the
technology, planning and implementation of capital works                signatories for promoting good safety practice.
projects, outsourcing of services, complaints management,                    The centre has also put in place a nutrition labelling
public information and public education.                                promotion programme in support of the implementation of
     Health Education: The FEHD is responsible for the                  the Nutrition Labelling Scheme in 2010. In 2011, the
promotion of food safety and environmental hygiene. It                  centre continues to reach out to the general public through
operates the Health Education Exhibition and Resource                   various publicity and education activities and media
Centre (HEERC) in Kowloon Park and the Communication                    channels, and support education stakeholders. To further
Resource Unit (CRU) in Fa Yuen Street Municipal                         consolidate the effort, a two-year enhancement nutrition
Services Building.                                                      labelling promotion programme has also been launched,
     The HEERC comprises a 1 100-square-metre                           aiming at motivating people to use nutrition labels in
exhibition area, a 400-square-metre outdoor health                      choosing food suitable for them.

Published by the Information Services Department,               Food and Environmental Hygiene Department Home Page address:
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government              http://www.fehd.gov.hk                                         February 2012
GovHK Website: http://www.gov.hk
Information contained in this publication may be freely used.
No acknowledgement is necessary.

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