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LCQ15: Hygiene blackspots

     Following is a question by the Hon Alan Leong and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (February 16):


     Recently, I have received complaints from residents in Kwun Tong that the operators of a small number of wet goods stalls located on the ground floor of their building did not conduct thorough cleaning work after operation hours, resulting in an accumulation of bloody discharge and meat scraps which gave off bad smell from time to time and caused cockroach and rodent infestation problems.  These residents pointed out that apart from affecting the hygienic conditions of the streets, such a situation also caused inconvenience to the residents upstairs and nearby.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) what criteria are adopted by the authorities for identifying hygiene blackspots;

(b) whether the authorities will regularly publicise the latest list of hygiene blackspots to enable the public to monitor improvements made to the hygiene blackspots; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) whether the authorities had formulated special hygiene guidelines for wet goods stalls on the street and those near residential buildings in the past three years; if they had, whether the authorities will conduct regular inspections to ensure that those stalls comply with the guidelines?



     One of the important tasks of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) is to provide a clean and hygienic environment for the people of Hong Kong, including undertaking regular street sweeping / washing and pest control work.  Having regard to characteristics of individual sites (e.g. locations where there is a conglomeration of different types of shops causing environmental hygiene problems), FEHD will increase the frequency of street washing and pest control work as appropriate.  Shop operators also have the responsibility to keep their shops and surroundings clean and hygienic in order not to affect pedestrians and residents.

     Regarding the three parts of the question, my response is set out as follows:

(a) and (b) In light of the exceptional circumstances of the global and local outbreaks of human swine influenza, FEHD, after taking into account the hygiene conditions of various districts and in consultation with the District Councils (DCs), identified 105 hygiene blackspots in the territory in May 2009 and conducted large-scale cleansing operations at these blackspots.  The cleansing operations were completed in February last year.  After inspection, the DCs agreed that the condition of the blackspots in their respective districts had significantly improved and the blackspots could be removed from the list.  Nonetheless, FEHD will continue to be in close liaison with various political parties, DC members and local personalities to monitor the hygiene condition of the locations concerned as well as all other areas across the territory.  Additional cleansing services will be provided where necessary to maintain environmental cleanliness and hygiene.

(c) If the shop concerned is a licensed food premises (e.g. a fresh provision shop selling meat), FEHD officers will conduct regular inspections to the premises.  To safeguard food safety, maintain environmental hygiene and prevent polluting the environment, inspecting officers will check the hygiene standards of the food and premises, as well as the hygiene condition of the surroundings of the premises to ensure that food business operators and workers comply with statutory requirements and licensing conditions.  Taking the rear lanes of food premises as an example, FEHD officers will also conduct inspections to ensure that no food is prepared or utensils washed by the operators there, otherwise warnings will be issued or prosecutions will be initiated.  During the inspection of premises, FEHD officers will provide advice to food business operators on how to uphold food and environmental hygiene, e.g. pest control measures, proper ways to store and dispose of waste and garbage, etc.  In case of breaches of statutory requirements or licensing conditions, FEHD officers will take appropriate actions against the food business operators concerned, including issue of warning, initiation of prosecution as well as registration of points under the Demerit Points System.  For recalcitrant operators, they will be penalised through suspension or cancellation of licences.  

     If the shop is not a licensed food premises (e.g. a vegetable or fruit stall which is not required to apply for a food premises licence from FEHD), in case of hygiene problems, FEHD will also take enforcement actions as appropriate having regard to the circumstances.  Moreover, FEHD works with the DCs and relevant departments from time to time to implement measures to improve environmental hygiene.  FEHD also organises promotional activities to strengthen the dissemination of environmental hygiene messages to shop operators and the general public.

Ends/Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:46


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