Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene

 

Unauthorized Building Works Found at Licensed Food Premises

 

 

PURPOSE

 

                   This paper sets out a proposal to tackle the problem of unauthorized building works (UBWs) found at licensed food premises.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

2.                   UBWs are often found at licensed food premises.  Common examples include water cooling towers, exhaust fans, ventilating ducts, commercial signage erected outside the premises, illegal cockloft, etc.  These UBWs often cause environmental hygiene problems to the surrounding areas, such as dripping of water and emission of hot air and fume.  They are also a potential threat to public safety.

 

3.                   Under existing practice, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will consult the Buildings Department (BD) on, among other things, the building safety aspect of a food business licence application.  If it can be seen from the layout and ventilation plans submitted by a licence applicant or during initial site inspection that there are UBWs attached to or extending from a premises under application, BD will either -

 

(a)              object to the issue of a licence unless the UBWs are removed; or

 

(b)             raise no objection to the issuance of licence, but point out that the UBWs may be subject to future enforcement action.

 

For cases under (a), FEHD will not issue any licence.  For cases under (b), provided that the applicants comply with other licensing requirements and there is no objection to the application from other departments, FEHD will issue a licence despite the existence of UBWs.  However, FEHD will convey BD��s comments about the UBWs to the applicant.  The present practice is not helpful in checking the proliferation of UBWs. 

 

 

THE ADMINISTRATION��S PROPOSAL

 

New Applications

 

4.                   To tackle the problem at source, we propose that new applications for food business licences be subject to the following regulatory framework -

 

(a)              As a general principle, FEHD will not issue any licence if UBWs, in particular those that may affect environmental hygiene or building safety, are found at a premises under application. 

 

(b)             To facilitate assessment of the existence of UBWs, applicants will be required to submit layout and ventilation plans setting out clearly both the interior of the premises and all the structures attached to or extending from the premises. 

 

(c)             If UBWs are detected on the proposed layout and ventilation plans submitted or during any site inspections, the applicant will need either to remove the UBWs or obtain BD��s approval of the building works, as one of the requirements for the issue of licence.

 

(d)             A licence will only be issued if an applicant can obtain certification from a recognized professional (such as an authorized person or a structural engineer registered under the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123)) that the premises under application are free from UBWs. 

 

(e)              A licence so issued may be cancelled if UBWs are subsequently detected.

 

 

Existing Licensed Premises

 

5.                   For reasons stated in paragraph 3 above, some of the existing licensed premises may have UBWs attached to or extended from them.  While we will not require the licensees of these premises to immediately remove their UBWs, any future transfer of licence in respect of these premises will not be allowed unless the UBWs are removed. 

 

 

IMPLEMENTATION

 

6.                   In view of the large number of applications for new licence and licence transfer that FEHD receives each year (the corresponding figures for 2002 being 2 502 and 2 379 respectively), we will initially target at premises that are commonly found to have UBWs, including restaurants, factory canteens, cold stores, food factories and bakeries.  Subject to the availability of resources, we will gradually extend the new arrangement to other types of licensed premises, i.e. fresh provision shops, siu mei and lo mei shops, frozen confection factories and milk factories.

 

 

WAY FORWARD

 

7.                   Subject to Members�� comments on the proposed measures set out in paragraphs 4 and 5 above, we will consult food business licensees on the proposal and report the outcome of our consultation to the Legislative Council Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene in December 2003 or January 2004.  We intend to implement the new arrangement in the first quarter of 2004.

 

Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

October 2003

 

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