LCQ 14: Sale of flesh of cats or dogs for food

     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Yung and a written reply by the Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Mr Tse Chin-wan, in the Legislative Council today (March 22):
     Hong Kong has enacted legislation to prohibit the slaughter of cats and dogs as well as the sale of the flesh of cats and dogs for food for over 70 years. However, it has been reported that in recent years, some licensed fresh provision shops were still suspected of selling the flesh of cats or dogs. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the total number of complaints received by the authorities in the past five years about licensed fresh provision shops suspected of selling the flesh of cats or dogs, as well as the number of such complaints followed up and the conviction rates;
(2) whether law enforcement agencies performed random checks on the goods of licensed fresh provision shops in the past five years to ensure that such fresh provision shops did not possess or sell the flesh of cats or dogs; if so, of the details;
(3) as there are views that the maximum penalty for contravening the relevant provisions of the Dogs and Cats Ordinance (Cap. 167) (i.e. a fine of $5,000 and imprisonment for six months) can no longer achieve any deterrent effect, whether the authorities will expeditiously amend the Ordinance to raise the maximum penalty; if so, of the details and timetable; if not, the reasons for that; and
(4) whether the authorities have considered co-operating with the relevant Mainland authorities or customs to combat the smuggling of the flesh of cats and dogs; if so, of the details?
     According to the Dogs and Cats Regulations (Cap. 167A) (the Regulations), it is in breach of law to eat, sell or possess dog or cat flesh for food, and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) will take stringent enforcement action. To curb such illegal acts, the AFCD has stepped up surveillance, inspections and blitz operations, including enhancing online surveillance. The AFCD will also strengthen publicity and public education through different channels.
     Regarding Hon Chan Yung's question, the reply to the question is as follows:
(1) Over the past five years, the AFCD received a total of four complaints regarding licensed fresh provision shops (FPS) suspected to have illegally sold cat or dog flesh and one case was successfully prosecuted after investigation. During the same period, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) received one similar complaint case, but no dubious meat was found after investigation.
(2) If the AFCD suspects that someone is illegally selling dog or cat flesh, it will deploy staff to the premises under complaint (including licensed FPS) for inspection and seize commodities in the shops for testing as appropriate. Should there be sufficient evidence, prosecution will be instituted against persons concerned. On the other hand, the FEHD is the licensing authority for food premises (including FPS). Through the licensing system, inspections, sampling and seizure of suspected commodities in shops and other enforcement actions, the FEHD has been ensuring that licensees comply with the licensing conditions and the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) and its subsidiary legislation on food safety and environmental hygiene. If the FEHD discovers any suspected sale of dog or cat flesh, it will refer the case to the AFCD for follow-up. The two departments will make arrangements according to the actual situation and carry out joint operations as necessary.
(3) Any person who breaches the Regulations by eating, selling or possessing dog or cat flesh for food, is liable upon conviction to a maximum fine of $5,000 and six months' imprisonment. Offenders have been sentenced to imprisonment in recent years, reflecting the severe consequences of breaching the Regulations. The AFCD will continue to closely monitor the situation and review the penalty level when necessary.
(4) The AFCD, the FEHD and the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department have all along closely collaborated to combat smuggling activities at various control points, including convening regular meetings, conducting joint operations at control points and exchanging intelligence. The AFCD also closely liaises with the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China to exchange intelligence.

Ends/Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:10