Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene

FURTHER SUBMISSION ON
PROPOSED NEW REGULATION TO CONTROL THE FEEDING OF
DRUGS AND CHEMICALS TO FOOD ANIMALS

PURPOSE

This paper seeks members' view on the chemicals that will come under control in the proposed Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Regulation.

BACKGROUND

  1. In the last Council meeting, members endorsed the proposal of enacting new regulations to control the feeding of chemicals to food animals in phases. The first phase of control involves prohibiting certain harmful chemicals and implementing Maximum Residue Limits for antibiotics and antibacterial compounds. Other chemicals like anthelmintics, growth promotants, pesticides and other environmental contaminants will be brought under control at a later stage.

FIRST PHASE CONTROL

  1. We intend to prohibit seven chemicals and specify Maximum Residue Limits in meat and tissues for 37 antibiotics and antibacterial compounds in the first phase.

PROHIBITED CHEMICALS

  1. We propose to prohibit feeding the following chemicals.
        
Beta-agonistsClenbuterolSalbutamol
AntibioticsAvoparcin Chloramphenicol
Synthetichormones DienoestrolDiethylstilboestrolHexoestrol
  1. Clenbuterol and salbutamol have been used in livestock to increase the amount of lean meat and reduce the amount of fat. Residues of these chemicals can remain in meat and edible offal for some time after administration and cause acute poisoning in man. Since 1998 there have been 15 such incidents in Hong Kong involving 37 people, all resulted from consumption of tainted offal.

  2. The antibiotic avoparcin has been used as a growth promotant in livestock feed. It has been shown to induce cross-resistance to the antibiotic vancomycin in enterococci, the drug of choice for life-threatening infections with these bacteria. The European Union has banned the use of avoparcin in animals. The manufacturer of the drug has also withdrawn it from sale.

  3. Chloramphenicol is banned for use in livestock in most countries. In man this drug can cause irreversible depression of bone marrow leading to severe anaemia, even at very low doses. Any residues of this drug in food represent an unacceptable health risk to the public.

  4. Synthetic oestrogenic compounds have been used to encourage growth and to improve carcass quality. Use of these chemicals in livestock is banned in most countries because they can cause cancer in man. CHEMICALS SUBJECT TO MRL CONTROL

  5. There is always a need to administer suitable chemicals to livestock to ensure their health and well being to maximize production. These chemicals should not normally leave a significant amount of residues in meat and offal and pose a public health risk if they are administered according to recommended dose rates and withheld from animals for a prescribed period before slaughter.

  6. The Codex Alimentarius Commission, the internationally recognised authority on matters relating to food standards, has set Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for a number of these chemicals. The European Union and some other developed countries have also developed MRLs on other chemicals of concerns based on scientific assessment of the risk arising from the consumption of residues.

  7. We primarily refer to the Codex in compiling the control list. Where Codex values are not available, we consider values developed by others, including the European Union and the Mainland (they share similar values), USA, and Australia.

  8. The full list is at the Annex.

ADVICE SOUGHT

  1. Members are invited to comment on the list of chemicals to be controlled.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department
September 2000






For information
on 14 September 2000
Supplementary
Information



Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene

COMPARISON OF LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES EMPOWERING THE WITHHOLDING OF CONTAMINATED FOOD ANIMALS OR ANIMAL FEED

PURPOSE

This paper compares sections of the proposed Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Residues Regulation with laws in other countries on withholding of contaminated food animals or animal feed from the market for Members' information.

BACKGROUND

  1. The proposed Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Residues Regulation, to be made under the Public Health (Animals and Birds) Ordinance (Cap. 139), gives powers to the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation to withhold from the market potentially contaminated food animals or animal feed.

  2. At the last Advisory Council meeting, Members requested further information on similar laws in other countries.

OUR PROPOSAL

  1. Under the proposed Regulation, the Director acting on laboratory data or other information that any animal feed may contain :
          -prohibited chemicals; or,
-chemicals at a level that may endanger animal or human health; or
-the description of drugs and chemicals on the packaging is incorrect

   may order any person to stop supplying such feed for a period not exceeding 14 days.

  1. The Director may also require any supplier of contaminated feed to recall his products from the market immediately and to store them safely. In addition, based on laboratory data or other information, the Director may order a period of temporary suspension, not exceeding 14 days, on supply of food animals by a food animal keeper to prevent further supply of animals and animal tissues suspected of containing chemicals that may endanger public health.

  2. The Director will need to apply to a magistrate to extend the suspension if he/she needs a longer suspension period to complete the investigation.

LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS IN OTHER COUNTRIES

  1. We have received advice and reviewed the relevant laws from Canada, the European Community, Switzerland, Australia (Victoria), Singapore, the United States and the Mainland. All of these countries or places have provisions to allow suspension of sale of livestock or animal feed on the grounds that they may be contaminated with potentially harmful substances, although there are variations in the means of achieving this.

  2. The table at Annex summarises major provisions in these countries and compares these to the measures contained in the proposed Regulation.

ADVICE SOUGHT

  1. Members are invited to note the similarities and differences among different countries.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department
September 2000

 

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