Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene

 

Confirmed Minutes of the Twentieth Meeting

held at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, 26 February 2004

at Room 1007, 10/F, Citibank Tower, 3 Garden Road, Hong Kong

 

Professor YUEN Kwok-yung, JP        (Chairman)

Mr CHAN Bing-woon, SBS, JP

Dr CHAN Hei-ling, Helen

Dr HO Dit-sang, John

Mr HUNG Hak-hip, Peter

Dr Anthony Edward JAMES

Professor KWAN Hoi-shan

Mr KWOK Chun-wah, Jimmy, MH

Mr LAI Tat-sang, David, MH

Mrs LAM WONG Pik-har, Grace

Ms LAM Wai-ling, Leona, JP

Dr LO King-shun

Dr the Hon LO Wing-lok, JP

Dr LUI Chiu-tong, Jacqueline

Mrs Carrie YAU                                 Permanent Secretary for Health,

                                                                Welfare and Food

Mr Thomas CHAN                             Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and

Conservation

Mr Gregory LEUNG                          Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene

Miss Vivian KO                                  (Secretary)

 

Absent with Apologies

 

Mr John LEE

Dr P Y LAM                                       Director of Health

 

In Attendance

 

Health, Welfare and Food Bureau

 

Mr Eddy CHAN                                 Deputy Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

                                                             (Food and Environmental Hygiene)

 

Ms Shirley KWAN                              Acting Principal Assistant Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food (Food and

                                                                 Environmental Hygiene) 2

 

Ms Priscilla TO                                  Assistant Secretary for Health,

                                                                Welfare and Food (Food and

                                                                 Environmental Hygiene) 1

 

Mr Louis NG                                     Senior Executive Officer (Food and

Environmental Hygiene)

 

Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

 

Dr S PMAK                                       Deputy Director (Food and Public Health)

 

Mr Donald TONG                              Deputy Director (Administration

and Development)

 

Ms Annette LEE                                 Deputy Director (Environmental Hygiene)

 

Dr Thomas CHUNG                          Assistant Director (Food Surveillance

and Control)

 

Mr Stanley NG                                   Senior Administrative Officer

(Food and Public Health)

 

Department of Health

 

Dr L Y TSE                                        Consultant (Community Medicine)

 

Environment, Transport and Works Bureau

 

Ms Jessie WONG                              Principal Assistant Secretary

(Environment and Transport)E4

 

 

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department

 

Mr C C LAY                                      Assistant Director (Conservation)

 

Opening Remarks

 

                   The Chairman welcomed Members to the meeting. 

 

Agenda Item 1: Confirmation of the Minutes of the Last Meeting

 

2.                                         Members confirmed the minutes of the last meeting subject to the incorporation of the following amendments as proposed by a Member �V

 

Paragraph 21

 

��the Huanggang border control point�� in the last sentence should read ��the Lok Ma Chau border control point��. 

 

Agenda Item 2 : Matters Arising from the Minutes of the Last Meeting

 

3.                                         There was no matter arising. 

 

Agenda Item 3 : Proposed Application of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Catagena Protocol on Biosafety to Hong Kong

 

4.                                         The Chairman invited Ms Jessie WONG to present the paper.

 

5.                                         A Member said that tertiary institutes followed the guidelines in the United Kingdom and Australia concerning the handling and transportation of living modified organisms (LMOs) for contained use.  He asked if the Government would establish a gene regulatory authority so as to formulate Hong Kong��s own guidelines for LMOs for contained use, such as specifications for storage and transportation of LMOs.  In response, Ms Wong said that the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety mainly regulated the trans-boundary movement of LMOs and the Advance Informed Agreement (AIA) procedure did not apply to the laboratory use of LMOs.  The Parties to the Protocol would soon discuss the implementation details including the guidelines for the packaging and transportation of LMOs.  When the Protocol was extended to Hong Kong, all the implementation details and guidelines would be in place.  The Chairman pointed out that tertiary institutes imported and exported LMOs for contained use and that detailed guidelines must be devised as to whether the AIA covered such trans-boundary movements and what other requirements must be followed after the Protocol was applied to Hong Kong. 

 

6.                                         A Member said that more information about the Protocol should be provided to the food trade as LMOs might also be used by the food industry. 

 

7.                                         Another Member asked if the Protocol also regulated the trans-boundary movement of LMOs in plants not for food purposes such as in-door potted plants.  Ms Wong said that if the plants were not going to be cultivated in soil outdoor and for intentional introduction into the environment, the AIA procedure would not apply to the trans-boundary movement of such LMOs.  Mr C C LAY added that most in-door potted plants did not possess any novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology and hence did not fall within the definition of LMOs.  The Member remarked that the categorisation of in-door potted plants was not clear and hoped that more detailed guidelines would be provided when the Protocol was put into force. 

 

8.                                         The Chairman concluded that the Advisory Council supported in principle the proposal to extend the application of the Convention and the Protocol to Hong Kong.  However, further implementation details should be reported to the Advisory Council when they were available. 

 

Agenda Item 4 : Outcome of Public Consultation on Proposed New Penalties for Repeat Cleanliness Offenders

 

9.                                         The Chairman invited Ms Shirley KWAN to present the paper.

 

10.                                     Four Members indicated support for the paper.  A Member added that enforcement actions should be stepped up to deter breaches of cleanliness offences after the new legislative amendments came into effect.  Another Member suggested that the results of the public consultation should be publicized to gain the public��s consensus on the need to impose higher sanction against repeat cleanliness offenders. 

 

11.                                     A Member remarked that apart from sanction, public education and publicity were also very important in combating the littering problem.  

 

12.                                     In response to a Member��s query about the age profile of the repeat offenders, Mr Donald TONG said that 12% were below the age of 20, 34% were between the age of 21-40, 35% were between the age of 41-60 and 19% were above the age of 60.  The Member opined that the problem of repeat cleanliness offences appeared not to be very significant since only 1% of the notices issued were to repeat offenders.  In response, Mr Leung remarked that since it would not be easy to catch the same offender on a repeat basis, the number of notices issued might only represent a small part of the problem.   

 

13.                                     Addressing a Member��s question about the types of community services that repeat offenders would have to carry out, Mr Leung said that it would be up to the court to determine the hours of community services depending on the gravity of the offence.  The Social Welfare Department would then decide on the community services to be carried out having regard to the background of the offender. 

 

14.                                      A Member asked whether heavier sanctions would be proposed for more serious cleanliness offences such as littering and dog-fouling which had significant public health implications.  Mr Leung replied that some littering acts could also have very serious public health concerns and hence the same sanction was proposed for the four cleanliness offences. 

 

15.                                     In response to a Member��s query about the problem of non-payment by tourists who were served fixed penalty notices, Mr Leung said that about 50% of the visitors issued with the notices made the payment.  

 

Agenda Item 5: Any Other Business

 

16.                                     A Member remarked that the existing regulatory regime to address water seeping problems in multi-storey buildings was neither adequate nor effective.  As a result, such problems usually persisted and could not be resolved even after lengthy investigation by the concerned Government departments.  If the aggrieved parties resorted to civil litigation actions, the process was time consuming and expensive.  Given the potential public health hazards of water seeping problems, the Government should review the existing system and consider introducing a new mitigation mechanism to handle such disputes.  Another Member agreed and requested the Government to accord priority to look into the matter given the public health concerns. 

 

17.                                     In response, Mr Leung said that it was difficult to identify the source of a seeping problem based on the existing technology.  FEHD had been discussing with the Buildings Department (BD) to explore if an arbitration board could be set up to handle such disputes in the long run.  As an immediate measure, FEHD would work with BD to see how the investigation work could be expedited.  The Chairman suggested that the Government should prepare a paper on the subject for the discussion of the Advisory Council. 

 

18.                                     A Member suggested that the Government should prepare a paper on antibiotic contamination of food products for the discussion of the Advisory Council. 

 

19.                                     There being no other business, the meeting ended at about 11:30 a.m.

 

 

 

Secretariat

Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene

Health, Welfare and Food Bureau

March 2004