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Opening remarks by SFH at press conference on public consultation on proposed regulation of edible fats and oils and recycling of "waste cooking oils"
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Following are the opening remarks by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, at a press conference on public consultation on the proposed regulation of edible fats and oils and recycling of "waste cooking oils" held today (July 7):

The Food and Health Bureau and the Environment Bureau jointly announced in September last year that we had reached a consensus and agreed to further safeguard food safety and Hong Kong's reputation through legislative amendments and enhanced enforcement. We are now announcing the commencement of a three-month public consultation.

The consultation comprises two main parts, namely the proposed regulation of edible fats and oils produced locally, imported into and exported from Hong Kong, and the proposed regulation of recycling of "waste cooking oils", which will be explained by (the Acting Secretary for the Environment) Ms Christine Loh in a moment.

Let me briefly introduce the legislative proposals on the regulation of edible fats and oils. We propose to make it a statutory requirement that "waste cooking oils" and "substandard oil" not intended for human consumption should not be used as ingredients for edible fats and oils manufactured locally, imported into and exported from Hong Kong. In addition, we would also propose that edible fats and oils manufactured locally, imported into and exported from Hong Kong should be accompanied by an official certificate or a certificate issued by an officially recognised independent testing institution certifying that the edible fats and oils fulfil the above-mentioned requirements, i.e. meeting the proposed statutory standards and being fit for human consumption. Furthermore, for effective enforcement, we would also put in place a process management system whereby source and causes of food incidents could be traced.

Nevertheless, in all honesty, even if we were to set up a specific regulatory framework, there would still be inherent limitations. The so-called "gutter oil", "tainted oil" and "substandard oil" are all generic terms without a scientific definition. There is no universal testing standard to identify such kind of oil in the international community. Regulatory authorities can only focus on the identification of harmful substances, and use the testing results as a reference indicator of whether the oil concerned is fit for human consumption. In short, it is impossible to determine "substandard oil". Ultimately, it is through close dialogue and co-operation among the Government, the trade and consumers that we could ensure food safety. Therefore, we need a properly designed regulatory system complemented by surveillance, self-discipline, education and publicity.

Let me now invite Ms Loh to introduce the legislative proposals on the regulation of recycling of "waste cooking oils". Thank you.

Ends/Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:49

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