Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene

 

 

Confirmed Minutes of the Twenty-third Meeting

held at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, 9 September 2004

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

 

 

Professor YUEN Kwok-yung, SBS, JP

 

(Chairman)

 

Mr CHAN Bing-woon, SBS, JP

 

 

 

Mr HUNG Hak-hip, Peter

 

 

 

Dr Anthony Edward JAMES

 

 

 

Professor KWAN Hoi-shan

 

 

 

Mr LAI Tat-sang, David, MH

 

 

 

Ms LAM Wai-ling, Leona, JP

 

 

 

Mrs LAM WONG Pik-har, Grace

 

 

 

Mr John LEE, JP

 

 

 

Dr LO King-shun

 

 

 

Dr. E K YEOH

 

Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

 

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

 

 

Dr Helen CHAN

 

 

 

Dr John HO

 

 

 

Mr Jimmy KWOK, MH

 

 

 

Dr the Hon LO Wing-lok, JP

 

 

 

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)

 

 

Mr Vincent LIU

Principal Assistant Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food (Food and Environmental Hygiene) 2

 

 

Mr Wallace LAU

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 P MAK

 

Deputy Director (Food and Public Health)

 

Dr Thomas CHUNG

 

Assistant Director (Food Surveillance and Control)

 

 

Department of Health

 

 

Dr L Y TSE

Consultant Community Medicine (NCD)

�@ �@ �@ �@

 

 

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 correction of the spelling of ��Culex tritaeniorhynchus�� in paragraphs 13 and 14.

 

 

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

 

3.                Following up a Member��s complaint, Mr Gregory LEUNG reported that FEHD had inspected the area beneath the flyover at Wong Nai Chung Gap Road.  Apart from some Police barricades, no improper storage of cleansing equipment was found.  The Member said he would take photographs of the problem if necessary.  [Post Meeting Note: The Member has submitted some photographs of improper storage of cleansing equipment to the Director of FEHD and copied to the Secretariat.  FEHD is following up the matter.]

 

 

Agenda Item 3: Chemical Residues and Antibiotics in Food Animals and Food

 

4.                    The Chairman invited Dr Thomas CHUNG to present the item.

 

5.                                         After the introduction, Mr Gregory LEUNG added that the success in controlling chemical residues and antibiotics in food demonstrated that our import control requirement could effectively influence the manufacturing practices in the Mainland.

 

6.                                         In response to a Member��s enquiry, Dr S P MAK confirmed that the amendments made to Caps 132 and 139 aimed at controlling food products and live food animals respectively.

 

7.                                         A Member asked if fish was subject to the above control and if the local or imported products had a higher non-compliance rate, and what remedies had been taken.  Dr CHUNG replied that since live fish was not regarded as food under the relevant ordinances, the above test was not done on live fish.  As regards the non-compliance rate, he said that local food animals showed a higher proportion of non-compliance.  He explained that for surveillance purpose, FEHD would identify particular products with higher risk of non-compliance for closer monitoring, e.g. chemicals used in feeding pigs.  Dr CHUNG also explained the procedure for handling test samples and emphasized that the window for corruption/cheating in the process was very small.

 

8.                                         In response to the Chairman��s question, Dr CHUNG revealed that clenbuterol was the chemical most commonly found to be misused.  He also reminded that when interpreting the test results, one should bear in mind that since the regulatory regime was implemented in phases, straight year-to-year comparisons might not be meaningful.  The Chairman agreed and opined that if we could identify the dominating pattern of misused chemicals, it could help us predict the likely problems and their seriousness.

 

9.                                         A Member enquired if FEHD would also investigate the source of the prohibited/restricted chemicals and trace the problematic products in the retail outlets.  Dr CHUNG revealed that under normal circumstances, problematic products produced locally would be discovered at the farm before they could enter the market.  For imported products, once problems were identified in the sample, FEHD would closely monitor the producer and conduct thorough surveillance on the subsequent batches of imported products.  Dr S P Mak added that if prohibited chemicals were found in food animals originating from local farms, FEHD would inform AFCD to initiate investigation to the concerned farms.  For imported products, FEHD would inform its Mainland counterpart to investigate into the farms concerned as well.  In the past, the Mainland had been cooperative in investigation and taking follow-up action including suspension of export.  In sum, she considered that the existing surveillance and monitoring system was performing well.  Mr Thomas CHAN confirmed that there were stringent control over the misuse of chemicals in local farms, and the maximum penalty would be the revocation of farm licence.

 

 

Agenda Item 4: Any Other Business

 

Finding of Bloodworms in Public Swimming Pools

 

10.                                     Upon the Chairman��s request, Mr Gregory LEUNG briefed the meeting on FEHD��s participation in investigating bloodworms found in public swimming pools.  He remarked that in mid August, FEHD was asked to assist LCSD in two areas, namely to confirm the type of worms found in the public swimming pools and to give professional advice on the possible causes of pest breeding in the pool area and suggest improvement measures.  The report of FEHD��s findings, alongside with other findings including that on the water samples tested by the Health Department and the Water Authority, had been submitted to LCSD. Meetings were convened by LCSD with representatives from various departments and experts invited by LCSD.  The latest view was that the environment and facilities of some public pools might offer suitable conditions for bloodworm breeding.  At LCSD��s request, FEHD would help inspect all public pools in Hong Kong with a view to uncovering possible breeding sites therein.  He also revealed that LCSD would spare one afternoon each week for thorough cleansing of all public pools.

 

11.                                     Dr L Y TSE added that at LCSD��s request, the Department of Health (DH) advised that the incident had no implications on public health, but rather a nuisance and environmental hygiene problem.  DH had also conducted tests on total bacterial count and E. coli/Vibrio cholerae in the water samples.  The conclusion was that the water quality of the affected pools was acceptable in accordance with the international standard, although the total bacterial count in some water samples from other pools exceeded the standard.  In response to a Member��s question, she confirmed that ozone and chlorine were used for sterilisation in public pools and LCSD would collect water samples every hour to monitor the residual chlorine level.

 

12.                                     The Chairman cautioned that we should stay vigilant to the finding of abnormal bacteria count in some water samples.  Drawing reference to a fatal case which happened in 1999, he remarked that although the presence of bloodworms in public swimming pools would pose no immediate health threats, it was an indication of deteriorating hygiene condition and might eventually have implications on public health.  Mrs YAU agreed with the observation and reassured Members that the Government would take full responsibility in protecting public safety and ensuring environmental hygiene.  She briefed the meeting on the support given to LCSD/HAB in drawing up an action plan to resolve the bloodworm saga.

 

13.                                     There being no other business, the meeting ended at about 6:15 p.m.  The date of the next meeting was tentative fixed on 11 November 2004.

 

 

Secretariat

Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene

Health, Welfare and Food Bureau

September 2004