Government launches public consultation on proposed amendments to Food Adulteration (Metallic Contamination) Regulations
A Government spokesman said, "The legislation regulates the levels of metallic contaminants in food. To better protect public health, facilitate effective regulation and promote harmonisation between local and international standards, the Government proposes to enhance and update the Regulations."
The spokesman said the Government has made reference to the international food safety standards set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, relevant standards of different jurisdictions, local food consumption patterns, the risk assessment results of the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and more when formulating the proposals.
The Government proposes to replace the existing food categories of "all food in solid/liquid form" with specific maximum levels (MLs) targeting individual food/food groups, so as to align with the Codex principle and modern international regulatory trends. It will also be conducive to more focused, tailor-made and proportionate regulation over metallic contamination in food.
To harmonise the food standards of Hong Kong with international food standards, the Government also proposes to adopt all Codex MLs on metallic contaminants, except for seven Codex MLs, including the ML for cadmium in "rice, polished" and the guideline level for methylmercury in predatory fish.
Moreover, the Government proposes to establish MLs for food/food groups that are of significance to the population in Hong Kong and for which there is no relevant Codex ML. Factors including the local dietary practice, the local risk assessment results, relevant standards of other jurisdictions, recent food incidents in Hong Kong and other jurisdictions and the Codex principle that contaminant levels in food shall be "as low as reasonably achievable" have been taken into account when setting the proposed MLs.
In addition, the consultation document proposes to update the food descriptions and nomenclatures in the Regulations and incorporate interpretation of MLs into the Regulations, so as to bring the Regulations into alignment with international practice.
The spokesman noted that under the proposed amendments to the Regulations, the total number of metallic contaminants covered will increase from seven to 14 and the total number of MLs of metallic contaminants will increase from 19 to 145, of which 90 are more stringent than the existing maximum permitted concentrations.
"According to the results of the routine food surveillance programme and additional studies by the CFS, the levels of metallic contamination in food in the local market can generally comply with the proposed MLs.
"We will consider putting in place a grace period for the Amendment Regulations to come into effect so that the trade and stakeholders will have reasonable time to get prepared for the updated standards," the spokesman said.
"Members of the public are welcome to give their views on the proposed amendments. We will take into account the views received during the public consultation exercise before finalising the legislative proposals and submitting them to the Legislative Council for consideration," he added.
The consultation document is available at the websites of the Food and Health Bureau (www.fhb.gov.hk) and the CFS (www.cfs.gov.hk).
The public can send their views to the CFS by post (43/F, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong), fax (2893 3547) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) on or before September 5.
The Government will conduct two public forums to collect views during the consultation period:
Date: July 11 (Tuesday)
Venue: Assembly Hall, 2/F, Lai Chi Kok Government Offices,
19 Lai Wan Road, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon
Date: August 11 (Friday)
Venue: Lecture Theatre, G/F, Hong Kong Central Library, 66 Causeway Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
For details of the forums, please call the CFS at 2381 6096 during office hours or visit the CFS website.
Ends/Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:25
Issued at HKT 16:25