The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) was drafting a comprehensive food safety law, said a spokesman for the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau of the HKSAR government on Thursday.
The law is aimed to gradually regulate food items which have a higher food safety risk or of wide public concern with priority given to farmed aquatic produce, vegetables and fruits, he said.
The remarks were made in response to demands of local green groups, vegetable traders and legislators for enhancing the safety of vegetables and fruits supplied to Hong Kong for consumption.
The spokesman pointed out that in view of the wide varieties of food imports to Hong Kong, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) would formulate regulatory measures on food according to their safety risks.
In the case of vegetables, the whole process from production, transportation to distribution is closely monitored by the concerned authorities from the mainland and Hong Kong to ensure safety.
According to the agreement between the mainland and Hong Kong, all vegetables supplied by the mainland must come from some 190 registered farms and purchasing stations located at different provinces.
Consignments of vegetables can only be exported to Hong Kong after examination by the relevant mainland entry-exit inspection and quarantine bureaux. Vehicles transporting the vegetables, which should be accompanied by monitoring card and pesticide declaration certificate issued by the mainland authorities, are required to enter Hong Kong through Man Kam To checkpoint. The CFS would also take samples for testing at the import, wholesale and retail levels.
The CFS has been working closely with other law enforcement agencies. Among the 28,000 vegetable transportation vehicles being inspected at Man Kam To checkpoint in 2006, 17 of them were detained. A total of 23 tons of problematic vegetables were destroyed.
The spokesman stressed that the food safety bill now being drafted would help strengthen the management of every part in the whole food supply chain through a new regulatory approach, including imposing a registration scheme on food importers and distributors.
He said the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau had indicated to the Legislative Council's Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene in February that new legislative proposals would be put forward for public discussion in the next legislative session and be submitted to the Council for scrutiny after consolidating the views of various sectors.
(Xinhua News Agency April 13, 2007)