Just as is the case anywhere else in the world, there are several laws that exist in Hong Kong which govern food and its importation. These laws must be enforced in order to ensure the safety of everyone in Hong Kong when they buy, sell, or consume food.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is responsible for the implementation of territory-wide laws and policies related to food safety control. It also enforces all legislation required to food. When it does so, it exercises the power which it has been granted according to Section 62(1) of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132). This ordinance allows officials from the Department to procure food samples at any of various points of entry into the territory. These samples are usually tested; some of the tests involved typically include chemical analyses and microbiological examinations.
In Hong Kong, the primary pieces of food safety control legislation are Part V of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) and all subsidiary pieces of legislation accompanying this law. The most fundamental tenet of food safety laws in Hong Kong as stated in Section 54 of the Ordinance is that no food to be sold in Hong Kong ought to be unfit for human consumption.
Food importers are responsible for ensuring that the food items they have procured are compliant with the local legislation. They do so by remaining in close contact with exporters. To ensure the upholding of adequate food hygiene standard, importers are encouraged to obtain health certificates issued by relevant foreign entities. Such certificates are to accompany their imports and will certify that the food products that they have brought into Hong Kong are fit for human consumption.
The high-risk nature of specific food items necessitates that additional legal criteria be imposed upon such items. Such has to be the case for public health reasons. These food items include game, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, milk beverages, frozen confections, and marine products.
The importation of such food items is governed by subsidiary legislation of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132). Those who plan to import game or eggs into Hong Kong require the permission of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department before they may do so. Additionally, the importation of meat, poultry, or eggs is restricted to imports from sources which have received official approval from the Department. Before importers are allowed to release any imported food, they are required to provide health certificates which have been issued by official entities of exporting countries. The importation of food items other than those which have been mentioned does not require official approval from any authorities.
Official Guidelines for the Importation of Food into Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety, which is run by the Hong Kong government, has provided certain official guidelines with regard to the importation of certain food items into Hong Kong. These food items are the high-risk food items upon which additional legal criteria are imposed; thus, they include meats of all sorts, dairy products, eggs, and marine products. There are also guidelines related to food recalls as well as guidelines related to pesticide residues in food which is to be sold or consumed in Hong Kong. The Centre for Food Safety has also formulated a code of hygienic practice which is to be applied to packaged low-acid and aseptically produced foods.