Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene

Confirmed Minutes of the Fifth Meeting
held at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, 2 February 2001
at Room 1007, 10/F Citibank Tower, Garden Road


Dr TSE Chi-wai, Daniel (Chairman)
Mr CHAN Bing-woon
Dr HO Dit-sang, John
Mr KAN Chung-nin, Tony
Mrs LAM WONG Pik-har, Grace
Mr LEE Luen-wai, John
Dr LEUNG Ding-bong, Ronald
Dr the Hon LO Wing-lok
Mr LO Yau-lai, Winston
Professor MA Ching-yung
Professor YUEN Kwok-yung
Mrs Lily YAM Secretary for the Environment and Food
Mrs Lessie WEI Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation
Mrs Rita LAU Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene
Dr Margaret CHAN Director of Health
Mrs Ingrid YEUNG (Secretary)

Absent with Apologies

Mr CHEN Shu-lin, Mark
Miss KI Man-fung, Leonie
Professor KWAN Hoi-shan

In Attendance

Environment and Food Bureau

Mr Paul TANG Deputy Secretary for the Environment and Food

Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

Dr P Y LEUNG Deputy Director (Food and Public Health)
Dr Y Y HO Consultant (Community Medicine)
(Risk Assessment and Communication)

Government Laboratory

Mr S Y KWAN Chief Chemist

Agenda Item 1: Confirmation of Minutes of Last Meeting

The Chairman said that the draft minutes had been sent to Members on 9 January 2001. The Secretariat had not received any comments. As Members did not propose any amendments at the meeting, the minutes were confirmed.

Agenda Item 2 : Matters arising from Minutes of Last Meeting

2. The Chairman said that following the discussion on the draft Consultation paper on the Review of the Food Establishment Inspection System and the Open Categorization Scheme at the last meeting on 8 December 2000, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) issued the Consultation Paper on 22 January 2001. The consultation would last for three months and Members were invited to forward further comments, if any, to FEHD.

3. The Chairman said that a Member had given further written comments on the Consultation Paper in his letter of 1 February 2001. The Member welcomed FEHD's incorporation of this Council's views into the final proposals of the Consultation Paper. He noted that a different regulatory regime was proposed to control the safety and hygiene standards of large food manufacturing plants in paragraph 4.25 of the Consultation Paper, but opined that more details on its operation should be provided. Mrs Lau responded that paragraph 4.25 of the Consultation Paper only aimed to set out the principle for regulating large food manufacturing plants and the implementation details would be drawn up in consultation with the trade.

Agenda Item 3 : Report on Consultation Exercise for Amendments to Food Labelling Legislation

4. The Chairman invited Dr P Y LEUNG to report on the result of the consultation exercise. Dr P Y LEUNG said that the submissions received generally supported the proposal to amend the food labelling legislation. Some comments such as the acceptance of EU's code (i.e., INS with prefix "E") for declaration of food additives, and "d/m/y" as the order of date marking sequence would be accommodated. However, suggestions such as supplementing "best before date" with "production date" and imposing labelling requirements on other known allergic substances would only be considered in the future having regard to the international development and Codex standard in these areas.

5. A Member asked how could the Government ensure that the "best before date" would not be misleading and why no requirement was added to govern the minimum size of "best before date". He also asked why no labelling requirement was imposed on the percentage of alcohol in alcoholic drinks. Dr P Y LEUNG responded that our labelling requirements should not be out of step with the Codex's requirements. Apart from food labelling requirements, consumers' health was also protected through food safety legislation and food surveillance system. Regarding the requirement to label percentage of alcohol in alcoholic drinks, there might be enforcement difficulty as the percentage could vary substantially with the passage of time and there was no similar legislative labelling requirement in other countries.

6. In response to a Member's query, Dr Margaret CHAN said that functional foods being medicines or food items were already subject to regulation under the existing legislation. There was also legislation to regulate medical claims. The Health and Welfare Bureau would study the feasibility of developing a regulatory framework to monitor and regulate health claims, so as to protect the consumers from misleading information and exaggerated claims.

Agenda Item 4: Verbal Report on Clean Hong Kong

7. The Chairman invited Mrs Lau to make a Verbal Report on Clean Hong Kong. Mrs Lau said that the Clean Hong Kong programme was officially launched on 17 December 2000. Three working groups, namely Operations Group, District Promotion Committee and Publicity and Public Education Group, had been set up under the Steering Committee on Clean Hong Kong to co-ordinate concerted efforts among different government departments on enforcement actions, clean-up operations and publicity programmes. Individual district action plans for the 18 districts in Hong Kong had been drawn up to clean the districts and promote the public's awareness of environmental hygiene. After consultation with the respective District Councils, the district action plans would be carried out in coordination with the publicity programme.

8. Regarding publicity, Mrs Lau said that feedback from the public about the character "Lap Sap Chung" as the mascot of the Clean Hong Kong Programme was positive. In addition to the API on Lap Sap Chung, four other APIs to highlight problem of littering in different environmental settings would be produced to promote the public's awareness and participation in the Clean Hong Kong programme. On public education, the main theme would be to promote clean and green Hong Kong and the emphasis would be on student education. FEHD had also started a series of school talks at primary schools which aimed at promoting students' awareness of the importance of Clean Hong Kong and feedbacks were promising. FEHD would liaise with the Hong Kong Tourists' Association and the Commissioner for Tourism to consider ways to coordinate the Clean Hong Kong programme with their programme to promote Hong Kong as an attractive place for tourists. FEHD was also liaising with the Transport Department and Highways Department on the materials used for pedestrians' zones that could facilitate street cleansing. Besides, FEHD would work with the Home Affairs Department and non-government organizations to educate new immigrants on the importance of keep Hong Kong clean and complying with the existing public cleansing legislation.

9. On the proposed legislative amendments, Mrs Lau said that members of the Legislative Council generally supported the proposed fixed penalty for three cleansing offences. Preparation was in progress to train the trainers of the relevant government departments so that they could train their staff to enforce the proposed fixed penalty and to publicize the deterrent effect of the proposal.

10. Mrs Lau undertook to give further progress reports on Clean Hong Kong to Members.

11. The Chairman commended FEHD's effort to clear away refuse and clean the streets in the flowers market at Prince Edward in the first day of the Year of Snake. He remarked that the most effective way to carry out the Clean Hong Kong programme was to let districts develop their own clean Hong Kong activities which could most suit the specific situation of their districts.

Agenda Item 5: Any other business

12. There being no other issues, the meeting ended at 4:50 p.m.

Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene
Environment and Food Bureau
February 2001