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LCQ19: Prohibiting dogs from entering food premises

     Following is a question by the Hon Lau Kong-wah and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, (in the absence of the Secretary for Food and Health) in the Legislative Council today (January 18):


     Some members of the public have relayed to me that quite a number of people like to keep dogs and wish to bring their dogs to restaurants; yet, other restaurant patrons, who are not pet lovers, may be worried that dogs may cause nuisance to them and may even affect the sanitary conditions. Hong Kong's existing legislation imposes certain restrictions on the scope of activities of pets and, under the Food Business Regulation (Cap.132X), members of the public shall not bring any dog onto food premises, and they commit an offence if they do so. I have learnt that the restrictions on dogs entering restaurants are less stringent in some overseas places where dogs are not only allowed to enter restaurants but there are also restaurants for pets.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of complaints regarding members of the public bringing dogs to restaurants received by the authorities in each of the past three years; the number of prosecutions against the persons concerned; and the penalties generally imposed on the convicted persons;

(b) while the authorities prohibit dogs from entering restaurants, whether they impose the same restriction on other kinds of pets; if not, of the reasons for that and whether the authorities will review the relevant legislation; and

(c) whether any legislation is currently in place in Hong Kong to regulate pet restaurants; whether eateries which only provide food for pets are required to obtain restaurant licenses; if there is no such regulation, whether the authorities will study advocating the development of pet restaurants and consider introducing legislation to regulate such restaurants when necessary?



     It is stipulated under Section 10B of the Food Business Regulation (Cap. 132X) (the Regulation) that no person shall bring any dog onto any food premises and no person engaged in any food business shall knowingly suffer or permit the presence of any dog on any food premises, except for dogs serving as guide dogs for the blind or performing statutory duties (e.g. police dogs). Upon conviction, offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for three months.

(a) The numbers of complaints about bringing dogs into eateries received by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) in the past three years, namely 2009, 2010 and 2011, are 81, 68 and 91 respectively. FEHD handles each and every complaint received, and gives advice or warning to or takes prosecution action against the individuals and food premises concerned as appropriate. In 2009, one eatery was prosecuted by FEHD for knowingly suffering or permitting the presence of dog(s) on its food premises.  The offender was convicted by court and fined $500.

(b) Apart from Section 10B, Section 5(3)(b) of the Regulation provides that no person engaged in any food business shall knowingly suffer or permit in any food room (i.e. any room used for food preparation or cleaning of equipment) the presence of live birds or animals.  Upon conviction, offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for three months.  Animals may become a source of contamination of food and equipment as their hair, bodies and excreta may carry pathogens and parasites.  In this connection, the Regulation aims to safeguard food safety and public health.  It is understood that there are also express provisions prohibiting animals from entering food premises in Australia, Canada, Singapore, etc.

     Physical co-presence of humans and animals increases the risk of transmission of communicable diseases, and domesticated dogs are used to making close contacts with humans.  Permitting dogs to enter food premises will pose higher health risk to patrons within, especially those physically weak or susceptible (e.g. elderly, children, pregnant women and the chronically ill).  It is necessary for the Regulation to lay down strict provision prohibiting dogs from entering food premises.  The Administration currently has no plan to review the legislation but will continue to keep the situation in view.

(c) Food premises governed by the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) are premises which provide food for consumption by the general public.  Shops providing food for pets only are not governed by the Ordinance.  As food premises in Hong Kong are generally cramped, and it could be difficult to keep animal behaviour under total control at all times, there is the possibility that accidents may arise if different animals are permitted to gather in a place to consume food.  The Administration does not have plans to advocate the development of, or regulate by way of legislation, pet restaurants.

Ends/Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:30


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