30th November 2022 – (Hong Kong) The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) today released a “Practical Guide on Take-away Meal and Meal Delivery Services”, laying down the general hygiene and food safety guidelines for handling and delivery of meals ready for consumption for reference and observance by relevant business operators such as food premises and food delivery agents, so as to reduce the risk of foodborne diseases.
A spokesman for the FEHD said, “As e-commerce is getting more and more popular, food transactions through the Internet, mobile applications or social media have increased. The FEHD understands that members of the public are concerned about the hygiene conditions during operation of food premises, online food delivery platforms and food deliverers, as well as food safety issues, therefore it has prepared a practical guide for all related business operators (including food premises, online food platforms, food delivery agents and food deliverers) to observe when providing take-away meals and meal delivery services.”
According to the practical guide, food for take-aways or delivery should be kept at the proper storage temperature as far as practicable before packing and during delivery, that is cold foods at or below 4 degrees Celsius and hot foods at above 60 degrees Celsius. In the course of transportation, in case a food warming device and food refrigerating device is not available for hot food and cold food respectively, all food should be delivered to the customers within one hour after preparation. Suitable containers with fitted coverings or sealed packaging should be used to contain the food, while specific packaging design or tamper-evident devices should be used to prevent food tampering. The storage compartments of the vehicles for food transportation and delivery containers should be cleaned thoroughly before and after each delivery and maintained in good condition.
Furthermore, food premises should prepare food in time for the delivery and avoid cooking too far in advance. All delivery records should be kept by online food platforms or delivery agents for 60 days for tracking by the authorities in case of a foodborne outbreak or recall. Clear delineation of responsibilities between the food premises and the online food platform or delivery agent on all customer complaints in respect of the quality of the ordered meals and any consequential effects thereof should also be set out in the relevant contractual agreements. Food premises, online food platforms or delivery agents should also provide adequate training to their food deliverers on basic food safety principles.
The spokesman added that food safety is currently protected by various laws in Hong Kong. Pursuant to section 54 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap.132), any person who sells any food intended for, but unfit for, human consumption, shall be guilty of an offence. Moreover, section 52 of the Ordinance stipulates that any person who sells to the prejudice of a purchaser any food which is not of the nature, or not of the substance, or not of the quality, of the food demanded by the purchaser shall be guilty of an offence.
To ensure food safety and public health, licensed food premises providing take-away and food delivery services (including online sale of food) must adhere to relevant licensing conditions, including the requirements on food containers, food storage and temperature for food delivery.