Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene

 

 Confirmed Minutes of the Nineteenth Meeting

held at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, 16 January 2004

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

Present

Professor YUEN Kwok-yung, JP (Chairman)
Mr CHAN Bing-woon, SBS, JP
Mr HUNG Hak-hip, Peter
Dr Anthony Edward JAMES
Mr KWOK Chun-wah, Jimmy, MH

Mr LAI Tat-sang, David, MH

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Ms LAM Wai-ling, Leona, JP
Mrs LAM WONG Pik-har, Grace
Mr LEE Luen-wai, John, JP
Mr Gregory LEUNG Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene
Mr Thomas CHAN Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation
Miss Vivian KO (Secretary)


Absent with Apologies

Dr CHAN Hei-ling, Helen
Dr HO Dit-sang, John
Professor KWAN Hoi-shan
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

Dr P Y LAM Director of Health



In Attendance

Health, Welfare and Food Bureau

Mr Edward LAW 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
Ms Shirley KWAN Assistant Secretary for Health,
Welfare and Food (Food and
Environmental Hygiene) 4
Mr Louis NG Senior Executive Officer (Food and
Environmental Hygiene)

Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

Dr S P MAK Deputy Director (Food & Public Health)
Ms Annette LEE Deputy Director (Environmental Hygiene)
Mr C P HUNG Assistant Director (Operations) 1
Ms Rhonda LO Assistant Director (Operations) 3
Dr Y Y HO Consultant (Community Medicine) (Risk Assessment and Communication)

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department

Mr S P LAU Deputy Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation
Dr Trevor ELLIS Senior Veterinary Officer (Veterinary Laboratory)

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department

Dr W M CHAN Assistant Director (Elderly Health Service)

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.

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

3.                             There was no matters arising from the Minutes of the last meeting.   

Agenda Item 3: Regulatory Control of ��Private Kitchens��

4.                The Chairman invited Mr Eddy CHAN to present the paper. 

5.                     A Member said he supported the regulation of ��private kitchens�� in principle, but the control measures should not be too strict.  He added that there should be control over the number of persons that could be accommodated in a ��private kitchen��, but the business hours should not be confined to no more than three and a half hours per day due to foreseeable enforcement difficulties.  Another Member also suggested that the Government should allow flexibility in implementing the control measures so as to avoid over-regulating the trade.

6.                     In response to the former Member��s concern about the seating capacity of a ��private kitchen�� and the number of rounds of meals that could be served each day, Mr Gregory LEUNG said that the maximum seating capacity of a ��private kitchen�� at any one time is 24 persons and most ��private kitchen�� operators would serve one round of meal at dinner time each day. 

7.                     In response to a Member��s question on the derivation of the seating capacity of a ��private kitchen�� and the new requirements on sanitary facilities, Mr Gregory LEUNG said that the seating capacity was derived by assuming that there would be a maximum of two tables with 12 persons each in a ��private kitchen��.  Also, if the total number of people in a ��private kitchen�� exceeds 30, then more stringent control would be imposed as the control under the relevant regulations would become relevant.  Concerning the fitting-out of ��private kitchens��, Mr C P HUNG supplemented that unlike traditional restaurants, a smaller kitchen and fewer sanitary fitments and ablution facilities were required to be provided in a ��private kitchen��.  Like applicants for other food business licenses, operators of ��private kitchens�� should also comply with the building and fire safety requirements imposed by the relevant authorities.  The planning and land use issues involved would also be handled in a similar manner as that for restaurant licence applications.

8.                A Member followed up by asking whether the existing ��private kitchens�� required alteration works in order to fulfil the new requirements before being granted a licence.  Mr Gregory LEUNG said that as the proposed regulatory control over ��private kitchens�� would be less stringent than that for traditional restaurants, most of the existing ��private kitchens�� would already have the required facilities in place. It was expected that the new licensing scheme would only have an impact on those ��private kitchens�� operating in pure residential premises.

 

Agenda Item 4: Anti-Mosquito Campaign 2004

9.                The Chairman invited Dr Y Y HO to present the paper.

10.                 Two Members complimented the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) for the efforts that they had made in preventing dengue fever.  One of them suggested that FEHD should proactively organize more talks and education programmes directed at students.  Dr S P MAK said that educational leaflets and teaching kits were produced and distributed to teachers and students. Students could also participate actively by becoming ��anti-mosquito ambassadors��.  Dr Y Y HO supplemented that FEHD had been working closely with the Education and Manpower Bureau in organizing talks and promoting weekly mosquito inspection programme at schools.  A Member supported the idea of ��anti-mosquito ambassadors�� and he suggested that more work could be done through the Home Affairs Department and the District Councils.

11.              In response to a Member��s concern about whether there were any plans to increase the frequency of screening the APIs about dengue fever, Dr S P Mak said that the publicity work on dengue fever, together with that on anti-rodent and Clean Hong Kong, would continue.

12.              The Chairman asked whether Aedes Albopictus had ever been found in Hong Kong.  Dr S P MAK replied that none had been found.  Dr S P MAK added that FEHD would continue to work closely with other departments and the District Councils to combat dengue fever.  A task force at district level would be set up involving relevant departments when the value of the ovitrap index recorded was over 20% to effect prompt control actions.   

13.              The Chairman asked what were the procedures involved once there was an imported case of dengue fever.  Dr. S P MAK replied that the Pest Control Advisory Section would be notified of all cases by the Department of Health and would take follow-up actions even for those suspected cases.  Environmental investigation would be carried out and anti-mosquito control work would be conducted for at least one month if it was a confirmed case.

14.              A Member opined that the Area Ovitrap Index (AOI) was quite high in Sai Ying Pun, but the area would be covered under Sheung Wan and Kennedy Town this year.  Dr S P MAK replied that due to the enhancement of the dengue vector surveillance programme in 2004 through extending the coverage of the programme to all major port areas, areas of Sai Ying Pun previously covered would remain to be covered by expanding the surveillance areas of the neighbouring Sheung Wan and Kennedy Town.  Addressing the Member��s concern about why the Peak was not covered under the programme, Dr S P MAK said that the focus was on the densely populated areas, hospitals and ports, etc.  It would not be meaningful to report the AOI for the Peak as there were a lot of trees in the area and the index compiled would naturally be high.

15.        The Chairman and another Member complimented FEHD for their good work and the Member followed up by asking whether there were any solutions to help those areas which recorded high AOIs (namely Cheung Chau, Wong Tai Sin, Tai Po and Lai King).  In response, Dr S P MAK said that more publicity work would be done and FEHD would continue to work closely with the Housing Department and property management companies of public housing estates on the ways to combat mosquito problems.  Dr Y Y HO supplemented that the high AOI recorded in Tin Sui Wai was mainly due to the habits of the residents and poor management of the property management companies.  Therefore, there should be control over the services provided by property management companies.  Working groups would also be set up in districts to solve district-specific problems.

16.           In response to the Chairman��s enquiry, Dr S P MAK said that to arouse public awareness on the anti-mosquito campaign, press conferences have been organised and publicity work had been enhanced.  The Chairman and another Member further suggested to explore the feasibility of enhancing enforcement actions at the concerned districts.

 

Agenda Item 5: Environmental Hygiene Actions to Prevent SARS

17.        The Chairman invited Ms Annette LEE to conduct the powerpoint presentation.

18.        A Member asked if the Government would consider enforcing regulations or encouraging people working in the catering trade to wear masks.  In response, Mr Gregory LEUNG said that the Government had discussed with the catering trade before and some of them objected to wearing masks because of allergy.  During the SARS outbreak in 2003, a consensus had been reached with the catering trade that food handlers would wear masks and food would be covered when served.  Recently, FEHD had issued letters to the catering trade again, reminding them to follow the guidelines.

19.        A Member raised concern over the rodent problem at the Prince of Wales Hospital. She also asked about the actions taken by the Government and the hospitals in tackling the problem of improperly disposed masks that had been used by other people.  Ms Rhonda LO said that the Government had handled the case promptly by conducting on-going investigations and holding meetings with the management of the concerned hospital.  FEHD would enhance investigations in hospitals, especially those with A&E and isolation ward facilities and stepped up disinfections and cleansing of streets nearby.  In order to properly handle used masks, more trash bins would be provided by FEHD and the hospitals.

20.        In response to a Member��s question on the geographical distribution of fixed penalty tickets issued, Mr Gregory LEUNG said that seven government departments could issue fixed penalty tickets to offenders.  More tickets had been issued at crowded places like Kwun Tong and Mong Kok and places where people congregate (i.e. bus stops, food stalls and off-course betting centres).

21.        A Member agreed to impose heavier penalty but objected to the Incentive Scheme for Hygiene Improvement in Food Premises.  Another Member recommended FEHD to step up its actions in food premises to enhance environmental hygiene.  He also requested the Department of Health to follow up why temperature record was not necessary when people drove to the Mainland through the Huanggang border control point.

22.     Mr Eddy CHAN said that there were contingency plans to deal with SARS.  FEHD colleagues would be deployed to clean the households of suspected case in case the private cleansing contractors refused to cleanse the households.

23.     Ms Annette LEE explained that the Incentive Scheme for Hygiene Improvement in Food Premises was in fact a loan scheme which the trade still needed to bear most of the cost and responsibilities.  FEHD had also stepped up enforcement actions by making 8% more prosecutions.

24.     In response to a Member��s question on the violence cases relating to the issuing of tickets, Mr Gregory LEUNG said that with public support, resistance now was much less than before.

25.    A Member suggested that the cleansing contractors could prepare statistical reports showing the black spots to FEHD, so that more enforcement actions and prosecutions could then be taken in those black spots.  Mr Gregory LEUNG replied that such index was currently being compiled by the Home Affairs Department.  Ms Rhonda LO added that more prosecutions would be made based on the number of complaints received and the experience of colleagues who worked in districts.  FEHD would continue to make prosecutions to enhance the deterrent effect.

26.      A Member supported the use of high pressure water jet to clean streets but advised to adjust the timing of the cleansing operations.

 

Agenda Item 6: Any other business

Avian influenza outbreaks in South Korea, Vietnam and Japan

  27.        As there were avian influenza outbreaks in South Korea, Vietnam and Japan recently, the Administration tabled an information paper introducing the latest development in these countries and the measures that Hong Kong had taken to prevent the outbreak of avian influenza.  The Chairman invited Mr Eddy CHAN to present the paper.

  28.        A Member said that the measures adopted in Hong Kong concerning avian influenza were quite effective and he supported the central slaughtering of chickens.  Another Member opined that although the Government had been doing a lot of work in protecting public health, there was not much coverage in press.  Therefore, she suggested that a publicity campaign about SARS, dengue fever and avian influenza should be launched.

  29.        In response to a Member��s enquiry about the control on imported chickens from the Mainland, Dr ELLIS said that all imported chickens had been vaccinated in the farms and the imported vaccinated chickens had achieved a very good success rate in vaccination, which was equivalent to those being vaccinated in Hong Kong.  If any dead bird carcass was found in the wholesale poultry market, it would be subject to further testing no matter whether it was an imported bird or a local bird.

  30.         A Member advised that the consultation exercise on avian influenza should be conducted as soon as possible as it would be easier to gain public support after previous outbreaks.  It was not desirable to give the public an impression that the Government was slow in dealing with this matter.

  31.         Addressing the Chairman��s concern about the difficulties faced by the Government on implementing central slaughtering, Mr Eddy CHAN said that objections would mostly come from the traders as their livelihood would be affected.  Consumers who preferred live poultry would also object to the proposal on central slaughtering.  The Government would further discuss with the trade and the public on the subject and the consultation exercise would be launched soon.

  32.         Two Members said that the Government should move towards the direction of central slaughtering and they believed that the impact to the trade would not be significant as most of them could continue with their current business.  However, another Member said that there would be an impact to the trade.  He suggested that a progressive approach should be adopted to prepare for the full implementation of central slaughtering.

33.         A Member asked if frozen meat would pose a public health risk.  Dr S P MAK replied that the risk of frozen meat would be comparatively low and  the Government always followed the guidelines given by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE).  In response to the Chairman��s question on the source of the H5 isolate found in November 2003, Dr S P MAK said that the virus was isolated from an environmental swab.

  34.         There being no other business, the meeting ended at about 12:00 p.m.

             

Secretariat

Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene

Health, Welfare and Food Bureau

January 2004

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