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HK's food safety bill good for trade: official
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The proposed Food Safety Bill in Hong Kong will boost food control without imposing a huge burden on the trade, Hong Kong Secretary for Food and Health York Chow said here Tuesday.

The bill will be tabled to lawmakers in the 2008-09 legislative session in Hong Kong.

Speaking at Legislative Council Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene, Chow said given that 95 percent of the food Hong Kong people consume is imported from overseas, the city must strengthen its import-control measures to ensure a safe food supply.

After reviewing the food safety law and researching overseas legislation and regulatory regimes on food safety, the bureau proposes to formulate a new bill adopting an incremental and risk- based approach in expanding Hong Kong's import control, initially over food with high potential health risk. The control measures may be extended to other food types when the risk level of the food concerned has changed.

Chow said the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government has balanced the need for tighter control and the trade 's concerns about over-regulation which will result in higher compliance costs and hence higher food prices and reduction in food choice.

Noting the new law will boost people's confidence in the food trade, Chow said this will be conducive to the business environment and long-term development.

Under the proposal, live fish, live amphibians and ice, which is commonly incorporated into food or drink, will also be covered.

A mandatory registration system for food importers and distributors will be formed to bolster the HKSAR government's ability to trace problem food. The requirement equally applies to food coming from overseas or locally produced.

The registration for food importers and distributors will be for three years, subject to renewal.

(Xinhua News Agency December 12, 2007)

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