FEHD rolls out new enforcement strategy to tackle unlicensed street food vending


18th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has introduced a new enforcement strategy centred around the use of video evidence. This approach was trialled in a recent operation named “Nighthawk” in the Sheung Shui area, marking a significant shift in tackling illegal hawking activities more effectively and safely.

The trial took place on the evening of 17th April along Choi Yuen Road near the Po Shek Wu Estate Ancillary Facilities Block. FEHD officers equipped with video recording devices targeted an area that has been the subject of 19 complaints since 2023, concerning unlicensed cooked food hawking. The operation resulted in the arrest of four individuals and the seizure of four food trolleys equipped for cooking, alongside approximately 20 kilograms of food which was destroyed due to safety concerns.

This method allows officers to gather substantial evidence against vendors who often vacate the scene before law enforcement arrives. By recording the illegal activities, the FEHD can pursue charges even after the hawkers have dispersed, thus minimising direct confrontations and enhancing public and officer safety.

“The use of video technology in our enforcement strategy not only increases our efficiency in evidence collection but also significantly reduces the risk to both the public and our officers,” commented a spokesman from the FEHD. This method is part of a broader effort to maintain order and ensure public health within bustling street markets.

The seized trolleys were found to be in poor hygienic condition, and the origins of the food remained untraceable, raising concerns about potential contamination and health risks. The FEHD emphasized the dangers of consuming such food, which could be compromised by unclean utensils and harmful microorganisms.

Under the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132), street hawking without a valid licence is illegal, with penalties including fines and imprisonment for repeated offences. Additionally, the Hawker Regulation (Cap. 132AI) stipulates that no one may cook or heat food for the purpose of hawking without the appropriate licence, subjecting violators to similar penalties.