IV. Review on the regulation of preservatives and antioxidants in food
Transitional period arrangement
Members noted that the Administration proposed to put in place a transitional period of 18 months upon passage of the amendment regulation for the food trade and other stakeholders (such as the private testing and laboratory sector) to make suitable adjustments as necessary to comply with the updated regulatory standards. Members asked the Administration why it did not draw reference from past experience to implement a longer transitional period (e.g. 24 months), so as to allow the trade more sufficient time to get prepared.
The Administration responded that it had proposed amendments to the Harmful Substances in Food Regulations (Cap. 132AF) in 2021. After weighing various factors (including business environment under the Coronavirus Disease 2019 epidemic and views of the trade), the Administration eventually extended the grace period for implementing some of the amendments to beyond 18 months. Regarding the review outcome and proposed amendments under discussion, the Administration would launch a three-month public consultation to receive views from the food trade and other stakeholders before finalizing the details of the proposals (including the transitional period arrangement).
Timetable for reviewing and amending the Regulation
Members were concerned that among the foods available for sale on the market in Hong Kong, whether the vast majority of them would meet the updated standards of preservatives/antioxidants as proposed. Members enquired if the Administration had assessed the impact of the proposed amendments on the local food market.
As shown by test data on food additives in CFS’s Food Surveillance System, most of the foods covered by the System would meet the updated standards of preservatives/antioxidants as proposed. The Administration would launch a three-month public consultation in mid-2023, and consultation forums would be held during the period to explain in detail to members of the public (including the trade) the contents of the proposed amendments. Members suggested that the consultation document concerned should be written in simple and plain language to facilitate easy understanding of the contents of the proposed amendments by stakeholders and members of the public.