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FEHD introduces two new measures to enhance food business licensing regime
     A spokesman for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) announced today (February 17) that starting from March 1, the FEHD will implement two measures to enhance the licensing system for the food business, including the introduction of a "Professional Certification System" (PCS) as an additional option for applicants in obtaining full licences, and extensive relaxation of the existing restrictions on food items sold by light refreshment restaurants (LRRs). The aim of the measures is to benefit food business operators and customers without compromising food safety and environmental hygiene.
     According to the Food Business Regulation (Cap. 132X), any person who intends to carry on a food business is required to obtain a relevant food business licence issued by the FEHD. With a view to streamlining application procedures and shortening processing times, as well as facilitating compliance with the licensing requirements, the FEHD is introducing the PCS which will adopt an approach of "licence first, inspection later" for the issue of full licences. Under the new PCS, the FEHD will accept a Certificate of Compliance and final layout plans provided by an authorised person or a registered structural engineer as the certification for compliance with all health requirements for the issue of a full licence. After issuing the full licence, the FEHD staff will conduct on-site audit checks to confirm premises' compliance with all health requirements.
     The spokesman said, "This enhancement measure will first be applicable to LRRs and food factories (FFs). Applicants of LRR and FF licences are free to choose between the current system (i.e. to issue a full licence upon the completion of the final on-site check by an FEHD officer) or the new PCS for the application of full licences. Subject to the smooth implementation of the PCS and support from the trade, the FEHD will consider extending the new measure to other food business licences."
     Meanwhile, under the prevailing LRR licensing regime, licensees may only choose to sell food from one of the six specified groups of food items (please refer to the lists at www.fehd.gov.hk/english/howtoseries/forms/new/Specified_Snack_List.pdf). Given that the types of cuisine and cooking methods have become more diversified over the years, the FEHD has decided to relax the restrictions on the scope of food items that can be sold at LRRs on the premise that food safety and environmental hygiene would not be compromised. Restrictions will be imposed on the cooking methods instead. Under the new regulatory regime, an LRR can basically sell any food item. As LRRs are generally small in scale and use simple cooking equipment, they are only allowed to adopt simple cooking methods (e.g. boiling, stewing, steaming, braising and simple frying) that do not generate a large amount of greasy fumes during food preparation. Also, no cooking or food re-heating activities (e.g. hotpots, teppanyaki or Korean style barbeques) are allowed in the seating area.
     The spokesman said, "The new regulatory regime will enhance the flexibility for the operation of over 4 300 LRRs in the territory. As they are allowed to sell more types of food, members of the public will also benefit from having more choices."
     The above-mentioned initiative will apply to all LRR licences applied after March 1. Current LRR licensees/applicants may choose to adhere to the original mode of operation, i.e. selling food items of a specified group, or they may apply to the FEHD for an amendment to the specified groups of food items on their existing licences.
     For details of the PCS and the relaxation of the restrictions on food items sold by LRRs, please visit the FEHD website (www.fehd.gov.hk).
Ends/Friday, February 17, 2023
Issued at HKT 19:25
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