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Government launches public consultation on regulation of edible fats and oils and recycling of "waste cooking oils" (with photo/video)
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     The Government today (July 7) released a consultation document which proposes, through legislative amendments, to amend the statutory safety standards for edible fats and oils, strengthen the regulation of edible fats and oils manufactured locally and those imported into and exported from Hong Kong, and promote the recycling of "waste cooking oils". The proposed measures aim to further safeguard public health and protect the environment.

     The consultation exercise will last for three months until October 6, 2015.

     Speaking at a press conference, the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, said, "The 'substandard lard' incident that happened in Taiwan in September last year has prompted public discussions on the safety of edible fats and oils. Both the Food and Health Bureau and the Environment Bureau agree that there is a need to safeguard the safety and quality of edible fats and oils and step up the regulation of recycling of 'waste cooking oils' through law amendment and enforcement.

     "We consider that a multi-pronged approach should be adopted in respect of the overall production and supply chain of edible fats and oils in the local market, in a bid to ensure the safety of these products which are imported into and exported from Hong Kong, as well as those sold and manufactured locally. Measures to be taken include formulating specific regulatory requirements, improving source management, strengthening inspection and testing during the production process, enhancing food traceability, monitoring the disposal of waste oils and putting in place export regulatory arrangements."

     On the regulation of edible fats and oils, the Government proposes to make it a statutory requirement that "waste cooking oils", as well as oils not intended for human consumption, should not be used as ingredients for edible fats and oils manufactured locally and those imported into and exported from Hong Kong.

     Making reference to the relevant international standards, the Government proposes to revise the statutory safety standards for edible fats and oils in the light of Hong Kong circumstances. The standards cover arsenic, lead, erucic acid, aflatoxins and Benzo[a]pyrene. The Government also proposes to set statutory standards for peroxide value and acid value in lard by referring to the practices of some other places. The proposed statutory safety and quality standards for edible fats and oils are listed in the Annex.

     The Government will require edible fats and oils manufactured locally and those imported into and exported from Hong Kong to be accompanied by an official certificate or a certificate issued by an officially recognised independent testing institution (such as institutions which can perform the relevant tests under the Hong Kong Laboratory Accreditation Scheme) certifying that the edible fats and oils fulfil the relevant statutory safety standards and are fit for human consumption.

     The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will regulate local edible fat and oil production activities through its routine inspection and enforcement work. The relevant requirements will be incorporated into the conditions of licences issued under the Food Business Regulation (Cap. 132X). The licences of those who are found to be in breach of the condition may be cancelled.

     Importers of edible fats and oils should provide copies of certificates or other supporting documents to their downstream distributors, retailers or food premises for the FEHD's inspection.

     Regarding the strengthening of the "waste cooking oils" recycling regulation, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) proposes to amend the Waste Disposal Ordinance (Cap. 354) by introducing licences for the collection, disposal and import/export of "waste cooking oils". Persons who collect (including buying and selling), dispose of or import/export "waste cooking oils" without a licence will be liable to a fine and/or imprisonment.

     Any persons, including "waste cooking oil" producers like restaurants and food factory operators, who allow or cause "waste cooking oils" to be sold, delivered, collected or handed over to a party without a licence will commit an offence and will be subject to a fine and/or imprisonment once convicted.

     To tie in with the above new mechanism, the FEHD will require all restaurants, factory canteens, food factories and bakeries to hand over their "waste cooking oils" to collectors licensed by the EPD for further disposal. They will also be required to keep records accordingly. Otherwise, they will be in breach of the licensing conditions and liable to penalties such as cancellation of licences.

     Prior to the amendment to the Waste Disposal Ordinance, the FEHD and the EPD propose to implement administrative measures to regulate the recycling of "waste cooking oils".

     The FEHD will impose an additional licensing condition on food premises operating under a licence for a restaurant, factory canteen, food factory or bakery, requiring that any "waste cooking oils" produced during the cooking process on the licensed premises must be handed over to a collector, disposer or exporter registered by the EPD for disposal.

     In the light of the licensing condition imposed by the FEHD, the EPD will register eligible local collectors, disposers and exporters of "waste cooking oils".

     The FEHD will require food premises issued with the above licences to record the dates on which "waste cooking oils", grease trap waste and other waste cooking oils and fats are collected from their premises, their respective quantities, and the names and addresses of the collectors and recyclers. The licence holders will be required to keep the relevant records for at least 12 months. The FEHD will conduct random checks to ensure that these kinds of oils and fats will not be refined again into oils for human consumption or their raw materials.

     The FEHD will issue warnings to any licence holders found to be in breach of the relevant licensing conditions. Repeat offenders will be liable to cancellation of licences.

     The Government welcomes the public to share their views on the legislative proposals.

     The consultation document can be downloaded from the following websites of government bureaux and departments:

Food and Health Bureau (www.fhb.gov.hk)
Environment Bureau (www.enb.gov.hk)
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (www.fehd.gov.hk)
Centre for Food Safety (www.cfs.gov.hk)
Environmental Protection Department (www.epd.gov.hk/epd)

     Members of the public can obtain the consultation document from the following locations:

* Communication Resource Unit of the Centre for Food Safety (8/F, Fa Yuen Street Municipal Services Building, 123A Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon);
* District Offices of the Home Affairs Department;
* District Environmental Hygiene Offices of the FEHD; and
* Regional Offices of the EPD.

     The public can send their views by letter, fax or email to the Centre for Food Safety or the EPD. Details are as follows:

(1) Centre for Food Safety:
Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department,
43/F, Queensway Government Offices,
66 Queensway, Hong Kong
Fax: 2893 3547
Email: [email protected]

(2) Environmental Protection Department
Waste Reduction and Recycling Group
Environmental Protection Department
28/F, Southorn Centre
130 Hennessy Road,
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Fax: 2574 6571
Email: [email protected]

Ends/Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:34

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