Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene
Minutes of the Sixteenth Meeting
at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 20 May 2003
Room 2005, 20/F, Murray Building, 5 Garden Road, Hong Kong
YUEN Kwok-yung, JP
|Mr CHAN Bing-woon, SBS, JP
CHAN Hei-ling, Helen
HO Dit-sang, John
HUNG Hak-hip, Peter
Anthony Edward JAMES
KWOK Chun-wah, Jimmy
LAI Tat-sang, David, MH
LAM Wai-ling, Leona, JP
LAM WONG Pik-har, Grace
LEE Luen-wai, John
LUI Chiu-tong, Jacqueline
Secretary for Health,Welfare and Food
|Mr Thomas CHAN
||Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation
|Mr Gregory LEUNG
||Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene
|Miss Vivian KO
Absent with Apologies
|Dr the Hon LO Wing-lok
|Dr Margaret CHAN
||Director of Health
Health, Welfare and Food Bureau
|Mr Eddy CHAN
||Deputy Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food (Food and Environmental Hygiene)
|Mr Edward LAW
||Principal Assistant Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food (Food and Environmental Hygiene) 2
Fisheries and Conservation Department
K K LIU
C W LAI
Director (Inspection and Quarantine)
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department
|Dr Y Y HO
||Consultant (Community Medicine)
(Risk Assessment and Communication)
Department of Health
L Y TSE
The Chairman welcomed Members to the meeting.
He said that the meeting was the first meeting of the new term of
membership of the Advisory Council. He
hoped that Members would support the work of the Advisory Council for the
protection of food safety and environmental hygiene.
Item 1: Confirmation of the Minutes of the Last Meeting
confirmed the minutes of the last meeting.
Agenda Item 2 : Matters Arising from the Minutes of the Last Meeting
There was no matter arising.
Item 3: Vaccination for the Control of H5N1 Avian Influenza in Hong Kong
invited Dr K K LIU to present the paper.
A Member asked
vaccinated against H5 avian influenza viruses were safe for human consumption.
Dr Liu replied that the vaccine approved for use in Hong Kong was
a registered commercial vaccine. Killed
H5N2 virus was used as the
virus component of the vaccine, whereas the oil-adjuvant component was widely
used in other vaccines for chickens. Because
the oil-based adjuvant could persist for some 2-3 weeks after inoculation,
vaccination should be withdrawn from chickens at least 4 weeks before they were
released to market. By the time the chickens were available for sale, they would
not have any residue of the oil-based adjuvant.
In addition, the vaccine manufacturer had completed the tests on the
safety of the vaccine and there had been no indication of any
problems with humans consuming chickens vaccinated with this vaccine or with
other killed avian virus vaccines containing the same adjuvant anywhere in the
asked whether imported live chickens from the Mainland would be vaccinated
against H5 avian influenza viruses. Mr
Eddy CHAN answered in the affirmative.
He said that the Government had visited the Mainland Institute
responsible for manufacturing the vaccine approved for use in the Mainland and
had already started discussions with the Mainland authority on the new import
control programme for H5 vaccinated birds.
asked about the price of the vaccine and whether breeder chickens and ordinary
chickens were vaccinated in the same way. Dr
Liu replied that two doses of the vaccine would cost about HK$0.50.
He said that there was currently little chicken breeding in Hong Kong and
practically all day-old chickens were imported from the Mainland. If there was any commercial breeder chicken farm in the
future, the vaccination response of breeder chickens had to be monitored to see
if any adjustment of the vaccination programme should be made.
In response to a Member��s query about the testing protocol on imported
chickens at the Man Kam To Control Point, Dr Liu said that blood samples
were drawn from imported chickens to test for H5 antibody under the existing
import control programme. Positive blood test results might indicate that the chickens
concerned had been exposed to H5 avian influenza viruses, therefore chickens
with positive blood test results would be repatriated to the Mainland.
However, when the Mainland also vaccinated their chickens to be supplied
to Hong Kong, the import control programme would have to be revised to monitor
if the vaccinated chickens contained satisfactory antibody response and were
free of H5 avian influenza viruses. The
Government had started discussions with the Mainland authority on the new import
A Member asked
whether it was too stringent to require all chickens to have satisfactory
antibody response before they could be released to the market.
Dr Liu replied that every batch of chickens from local farms had
to be tested for H5 antibody to ensure that the chickens had protection against
H5 avian influenza viruses. A
testing programme had already been put in place for the purpose.
suggested that the health certificates for Mainland chickens should certify that
the chickens had been vaccinated by a vaccine approved for use in the Mainland
with equivalent effects as the one used in Hong Kong.
Mr Eddy CHAN concurred.
asked how the Government could monitor if farmers had complied with the
requirement to vaccinate their chickens against H5 avian influenza viruses and
what would be the sanctions against non-compliance.
In response, Dr Liu said that every batch of chickens must be
subject to testing for antibody and would not be allowed for sale unless the
chickens showed a satisfactory level of antibody response.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) had also
imposed a licence condition to require farmers to vaccinate their chickens with
a registered vaccine against H5 avian influenza viruses.
Those farmers who failed to comply with this licence condition would have
their licences revoked. In
addition, AFCD would also inspect the purchase and sales records of the vaccine.
A Member asked
whether it was a normal practice to use sentinels to check for disease infection
in livestock farms and whether the sentinels would become a source of infection
in the farms. In response, Dr
Liu said that it was common to keep sentinels for monitoring disease
infection in livestock farms. Since chickens were susceptible to H5N1 avian influenza, the
health conditions of the sentinels served as a clear indication of whether there
was virus incursion in a farm. If
H5 virus or antibody was detected in the sentinels, AFCD would take prompt
actions to investigate into the case. Chickens
would not be allowed for sale until there was evidence confirming that no H5
virus was circulating in the farm. The
Chairman added that if sentinels were infected with H5 avian influenza
viruses and died subsequently, it indicated that there was not adequate flock
immunity to protect the sentinels. It
could also be due to unsatisfactory biosecurity standard of the farm.
A Member said
that the sanitary standard applicable to chickens imported from the Mainland
should be the same as that applicable to local chickens.
Mr Eddy CHAN agreed. Mr
Gregory LEUNG added that the Mainland authority adopted a very stringent
practice to ensure the sanitary standard of live chickens supplied to Hong Kong. If any consignment of chickens failed to meet the import
requirements, the concerned exporting farms would no longer be permitted to
supply live chickens to Hong Kong.
pointed out that vaccinated chickens could still be infected with H5 avian
influenza. It was therefore
important for local farmers to continue to improve the biosecurity standard of
their farms. In response, Dr Liu
said that farmers had started to change their mindset about the need to
implement biosecurity measures. They
had put in place measures such as putting up barriers to reduce trespassing into
their farms, segregating the production area away from the loading, unloading
and feed areas, and installing disinfectant pool at the entrance of their farms.
AFCD would continue to educate farmers on the need to implement
asked whether birds reared in farms would be infected by wild birds given that
H5N1 virus was endemic amongst wild birds in the region.
Dr Liu said that all local farmers had installed bird-proofing
facilities at chicken sheds to minimize the risk of infection by wild birds.
In fact, no local farms had been found to be infected since all chickens
were vaccinated against H5 avian influenza viruses by end February 2003.
suggested that the Government should
expedite discussions with the Mainland so that imported chickens could be
vaccinated against H5 avian influenza viruses as soon as possible to minimize
the risk of recurrence of avian influenza outbreaks.
In response, Mr Eddy CHAN said that the Government had started
discussions with the Mainland authorities on the new import control programme.
Mainland live chickens for the Hong Kong market would be vaccinated as
soon as agreement was reached on the new programme.
expressed concern about the recent H7N7 avian influenza outbreak and the
reported human cases of infection in the Netherlands. He asked whether H7N7 virus had ever been detected in Hong
Kong and if Hong Kong had imported any poultry or poultry products from the
Netherlands. In response, Dr Liu
said that Hong Kong had not imported any live poultry from the Netherlands.
Nor had H7N7 virus been detected here.
Mr Leung said that Hong Kong had imported poultry products from
the Netherlands before but the quantity was not substantial.
[Post-meeting Note : Hong Kong had immediately imposed a temporary
ban on the import of poultry and poultry products from the Netherlands when we
received the report of the outbreak.]
Item 4 : Pro-active Actions taken by the Multi-disciplinary Response Team to
Contain the Spread of SARS Cases
invited Mr Eddy CHAN to present the paper.
A Member asked
if a residential building with confirmed SARS case could be removed from the
list of ��infected buildings�� immediately if the concerned SARS case was
confirmed not to be infected within the building.
In response, Mrs Carrie YAU said that this could not be
entertained because the decision to publish the list of ��infected buildings��
was made in response to the community��s demand for a more transparent approach
to disseminate information about confirmed SARS cases.
The aim was to increase the awareness of the residents in the ��infected
buildings�� the importance of maintaining good environmental and personal
suggested that the Government should take proactive actions to rectify the
problem of sewage moving from one flat to the other in some public housing
estates due to the interconnection of internal sewage pipes of different flats.
Mrs Yau said that the SARS outbreak had aroused the community��s
concern about the piping problems in residential flats.
Various government departments, including the Housing Department,
Buildings Department and Drainage Services Department, were responsible for
overseeing drainage pipes of public housing estate buildings, external drainage
pipes of private residential buildings, and main drainage pipes respectively. The Government would work out a comprehensive strategy
to address the problem. Another
Member also supported that the Government should take more proactive actions
to resolve the leakage and seeping problem of sewage and drainage pipes for the
protection of public health.
A Member said
that the Government should mobilize the public to improve the standard of
environmental hygiene and building maintenance for the prevention of SARS.
The public should take care of their own private property and it was not
appropriate or viable for the Government to assume the responsibility for them. In addition, District Council members would have a role to
play in securing the community��s participation.
Mrs Yau and another Member agreed.
said that the actions to be taken by the Government until the year-end to clean
the common areas of old unhygienic private buildings and to collect domestic
bagged refuse in old districts were very exceptional.
The purpose was to bring about an immediate improvement to public hygiene
in view of the lessons learnt from the SARS outbreak.
The residents in these old buildings and districts would be responsible
for maintaining the hygiene standard of their neighbourhood thereafter.
District Council members would be encouraged to mobilize the efforts at
the district level to improve the community hygiene.
suggested that the expenditure incurred by the Government on behalf of the
owners in cleansing the common parts and rectifying the structural defects of
private buildings should be recovered through, for example, the collection of
rates. It should also mobilize the
public to inspect and effect repairs to the sewage and drainage pipes of their
own property and bear the costs incurred.
suggested that the Government should set up a mechanism for the public to resort
to mediation to handle disputes over leakage and seeping problems.
This would enable the concerned parties to address the problems as
quickly as possible without the need to resort to lengthy and complicated legal
proceedings. For example, instead
of requiring the party causing the leakage or seeping problem to pay for the
repairing cost, a mechanism could be worked out to allow for all the affected
parties to share out the cost. In
response, Mr Leung said that the main difficulty in handling a leakage or
seeping problem was to identify the household responsible for causing the
leakage or seeping.
said that the Government should step up enforcement actions against spitting at
public housing estates. Mr Leung
responded that the Housing Department would review its enforcement strategy.
remarked that the Government should conduct a comprehensive review to see what
lessons could be learnt from the SARS outbreak.
The Singapore Government was already conducting such a review.
suggested that the Government should encourage CSSA recipients to carry out
community services to clean up the environment and contract out the cleansing of
public toilets. In
response, Mr Leung said that the Food and Environmental Hygiene
Department (FEHD) together with the Social Welfare Department had put in place
an arrangement for CSSA recipients to participate in community services
including refuse collection and street cleansing.
As for public toilets, FEHD had implemented a refurbishment programme and
deployed an attendant to maintain the cleanliness of those public toilets which
had more than 200 times of usage per day.
remarked that every member of the community had a role to play in upgrading the
public and environmental hygiene standard in Hong Kong so as to prevent the
recurrence of outbreaks of communicable diseases in the community.
The Government should mobilize community��s participation in this
Agenda Item 5 :
Findings of and Government Responses to Recent Surveys on Prevention of Dengue
invited Mr Edward LAW to present the paper.
Member��s question on why the monthly ovitrap index for April 2003 was much
lower than the index for April 2002, Mr Law said that this might probably
be due to the enhanced anti-mosquito actions taken by the various government
departments and the community-wide cleansing efforts arising from the SARS
outbreak. Another Member
added that this might also be due to a cooler and less rainy weather in April
this year as compared with last year.
A Member said
that the Government should encourage the community to participate in removing
the mosquito breeding grounds and improving the environmental hygiene standard.
suggested that the Government should step up public education on the prevention
of dengue fever. In particular,
seminars for school principals should be held to educate them the effective ways
to prevent dengue fever in school premises.
Public education for children on the importance of maintaining a high
standard of environmental hygiene should also be stepped up.
Y Y HO said that the monthly ovitrap index for
June to August was expected to increase in view of the rainy weather in these
months. He said that actions would
be stepped up to clear mosquito-breeding sites and inspect potential breeding
areas. In addition, public
education programmes on the importance of anti-mosquito measures would be
organized for construction site mangers, teachers and representatives of
Incorporated Owners and building management companies.
A Member said
that the economy of Hong Kong was already hard hit by the SARS outbreak and
could not stand another major outbreak of dengue fever.
She suggested that the Government
should take strict and continuous enforcement actions against the management of
construction sites for allowing the breeding of mosquitoes within their sites.
Instead of issuing summons to the management, the Government should set
up a fixed and heavy penalty system so as to increase the effectiveness of the
enforcement procedure and maintain deterrent effect. Besides,
it should also strengthen public education on the importance of good personal
and environmental hygiene and tighten up enforcement actions to deter breaches
of cleanliness offences.
suggested that the Government should step up actions to improve the hygiene
condition of rear lanes. It should
also address the problem of water dripping of air-conditioners. In
response, Mr Leung said that there were enforcement problems in combating
against nuisances caused by water dripping of air-conditioners.
It was not easy to identify the persons responsible for causing the
nuisances and the existing procedure for instituting prosecutions was
complicated. The Government would
look into ways to streamline the enforcement procedure.
A Member remarked that the Government should address the problem
at source. It should impose a
mandatory requirement that air-conditioners had to be installed and regularly
inspected by qualified technicians registered with the Electrical and Mechanical
Services Department. Another
Member added that the Government should explore if fines could be imposed on
the concerned management companies / Owners�� Committee / Incorporated Owners
when the problem was identified at private buildings.
This would save the Government��s efforts in identifying the responsible
said that the Government should ensure that the public was well aware of the
area ovitrap index of their respective districts. One
Member suggested that the District Councils could be involved in the
prevention of mosquito-breeding grounds in district levels.
The other added that the indexes could be widely publicized on TV.
stressed the importance of public education in increasing the community��s
awareness of the need to prevent mosquito breeding.
She considered that individual owners/residents and building management
companies should be responsible for maintaining the environmental hygiene
standard of their neighborhood. As
a long-term plan to upgrade the environmental hygiene standard in Hong Kong, the
Government should step up civic education for primary school students. Another Member
echoed that if problems of mosquito breeding grounds and poor environmental
hygiene were identified within the areas of private housing estates/buildings,
the management companies/ Owners�� Committees / Incorporated Owners should be
fined. Again, continuous and strict
enforcement actions should be taken against those problematic cases and a fixed
penalty system should be put in place.
suggested that the Government should target its public education efforts in the
prevention of dengue fever at foreign domestic helpers and new immigrants. For
example, pamphlets could be distributed to foreign domestic helpers on Saturdays
and Sundays at places where they usually gathered.
In addition, the pamphlets for new immigrants available for collection at
the District Offices should also include public health education on personal and
environmental hygiene for the prevention of common communicable diseases.
Agenda Item 6: Any Other Business
There being no other
business, the meeting ended at about 5:00 p.m.
on Food and Environmental Hygiene
and Food Bureau