CFS follows up on illegal import of frozen beef from Japan

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) announced today (April 12) that a consignment of frozen beef from Japan was illegally imported into Hong Kong. All products have been seized and none have entered the market. Follow-up is in progress.

     "The CFS mounted a joint operation with the Customs and Excise Department yesterday (April 11) and inspected a consignment claimed to be frozen noodles imported from Japan at Kwai Chung Customhouse. After examination, 158 cartons of frozen beef suspected to be illegally imported from Japan was found in the container. Information on the product labels showed that 38 cartons were from Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan and the remaining 120 cartons with unknown origin, all without necessary import documents including import licences, health certificates and written permission from the FEHD," a CFS spokesman said.

     For the sake of prudence, samples of the products concerned were taken for testing of radiation levels and all test results were satisfactory.

     Investigation by the CFS found that the importer concerned was not a food importer registered with the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene (DFEH). Prosecution will be instituted against the importer concerned should there be sufficient evidence.

     Under the Food Safety Ordinance (Cap 612), any person who carries on a food importation/distribution business shall register with the DFEH and keep the relevant transaction records. According to the Imported Game, Meat, Poultry and Eggs Regulations (Cap 132AK), any person who imports game, meat, poultry or eggs into Hong Kong should produce a health certificate issued by the relevant authorities of the place of origin or prior written permission granted by the FEHD. An offender breaching the aforementioned regulations is liable on conviction to a fine of $50,000 and six months' imprisonment."@

     Furthermore, in accordance with the Import and Export Ordinance (Cap 60), any person who imports any article specified in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Import and Export (General) Regulations (Cap 60 sub. leg. A), except under and in accordance with an import licence, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of $500,000 and to imprisonment for two years.

     "As meat from dubious sources and not inspected may pose health risks to the public, the CFS and relevant departments will strive to deter the illegal import of meat into Hong Kong and step up surveillance to safeguard food safety and public health," the spokesman said.

     The spokesman reminded the trade to comply with the law and not to import or sell meat from dubious sources and without health certificates. Members of the public should purchase meat from licensed and reputable vendors.  

     The CFS will continue to closely follow up on the incident and take appropriate action, including informing the Japanese authorities of the incident. Investigation is ongoing.

Ends/Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Issued at HKT 21:05