Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene
of ��Private Kitchens��
This paper seeks Members�� comments on the regulatory control of
The operation of ��private kitchens�� is growing in recent
years. These premises are usually different from conventional
restaurants in terms of location, mode of operation and size.
In view of the unique nature of ��private kitchens��, the Food and
Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has been looking into the
feasibility of regularising this new type of food business.
In considering the regularisation of ��private kitchens��,
we have taken into account the following factors �V
Economic and consumer benefits
The regularisation of ��private kitchens�� would
bring several economic and consumer benefits. First, ��private
kitchens�� are mainly small and easy-to-set-up businesses.
Their regularisation will not only allow existing operations to
continue, but also enable newcomers to enter the trade, providing
more business and employment opportunities. Second, dining
in ��private kitchens�� is gaining popularity. Suitably regulated
��private kitchens�� will provide consumers with more choices of dining
places. Third, regularisation will help foster the growth
of this form of dining experience, consolidating Hong Kong��s status
as a culinary capital.
At present, operators
of food premises are required to meet certain hygiene requirements
relating to food preparation area and storage space, sanitary fitments,
grease trap and ventilation system. In the interest of public
health, we must ensure that the health risk to the community posed
by ��private kitchens�� is no higher than by other food premises.
While recognising that building and fire requirements
may be suitably adjusted to take account of the lesser scale of
operation of ��private kitchens��, public safety must be ensured in
devising any proposed regularisation scheme. Proper requirements
in respect of means of escape and fire safety measures must be in
place to protect the patrons as well as the neighbours.
Possible nuisances to neighbours
The operation of a food business within a multi-storey
building can potentially give rise to environmental nuisances such
as smell, fume and noise to the displeasure of the neighbours.
This would be more so if, after regularisation, several more ��private
kitchens�� are set up in the same building. This concern needs
to be taken into account to keep possible nuisances to a minimum.
Planning and land use issues
Unless with the approval of the Town Planning
Board, commercial activities (including the operation of ��private
kitchens��) are normally not allowed in domestic portion of buildings
located in areas designated for residential use under outline zoning
plans. Likewise, the land lease and the deed of mutual covenant
of the building concerned may not allow the operation of ��private
kitchens��. While there are advantages in facilitating the
operation of ��private kitchens��, planning/land lease requirements
and the rights of the property owners concerned should also be respected
and catered for in any regularisation scheme.
the process of devising the regulatory framework for ��private kitchens��,
we have also consulted stakeholders and partie concerned.
The views expressed so far on the regularisation of ��private kitchens��
are summarised as follows �V
restaurant trade felt strongly that ��private kitchens�� should be
subject to licensing control. They considered that ��private
kitchens�� were operating on a lower cost base and posing unfair
competition to licensed food operators. These kitchens were
taking business away from them. Some doubted if ��private kitchens��
had helped in promoting tourism as claimed.
��Private kitchen�� operators
kitchen�� operators believed that their kitchens offered an alternative
to consumers and contributed to the development of tourism in
Most operators agreed that private kitchens should also be subject
to regulatory control. However, they pointed out that existing
regulatory requirements had been designed with conventional restaurants
in mind and did not suit the development of small-scale operations
such as private kitchens.
LegCo Panel Members
Members expressed divergent views on the subject. Some Members
observed that ��private kitchens�� were popularly received overseas
and agreed that ��private kitchens�� would provide new business and
employment opportunities and would offer consumers more choices.
The Government should offer a conducive environment for the operation
of ��private kitchens�� by providing a less stringent regulatory regime
for such establishments. On the other hand, some Members were
concerned that any regulatory regime for ��private kitchens�� should
not compromise food hygiene and other safety standards, and that
the Government should provide a level playing field for all food
Taking into account the above considerations and views gathered
from parties concerned, we now propose that ��private kitchens�� be
placed within a licensing regime under section 31 of the Food Business
Regulation (Cap 132 sub. leg.), as with other food business operations
such as restaurants, food factories and fresh provision shops.
This will also allow ��private kitchen�� operators to apply for a
liquor licence in respect of their premises.
Under the new licensing regime, we will require ��private
kitchens�� to meet the following criteria �V
��private kitchens�� from causing nuisances to nearby residents, they
will not be allowed to operate in pure residential premises.
The premises used for ��private kitchens�� shall be housed in commercial
buildings or composite commercial/residential buildings;
seating capacity will be 24 persons at any one time;
of ��private kitchens�� shall be confined to the provision of dinner
and the business hours shall be no more than three and a half hours
per day; and
of food factories, i.e. providing meals for consumption off the
premises, shall not be allowed unless the food premises obtain the
necessary food factory licences.
Fitting-out for food room and toilets are among the most
important works involved in setting up a restaurant. Given
the much smaller and confined scale of operation as set out in paragraph
6 (b) to (d), we consider it fair and reasonable to require
��private kitchens�� to provide smaller food rooms and fewer sanitary
fitments and ablution facilities than traditional restaurants.
This would help reduce the initial capital investment of ��private
kitchen�� operators, without compromising food safety and hygiene
Operators of ��private kitchens�� should, however, comply with
building and fire safety requirements imposed by the relevant authorities,
i.e. the Buildings Department and the Fire Services Department,
as with applicants for other food business licences. The planning
and land use issues involved would also be handled in a similar
manner as that for restaurant licence applications.
Subject to Members�� views, we will work out the detailed
requirements mentioned in paragraphs 7 and 8 with relevant Government
departments. We will then proceed to amend the law to effect
the implementation of the new licensing scheme.
Members are invited to comment on the proposed regulatory
framework for ��private kitchens��.
Health, Welfare and Food Bureau
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department