Hong Kong Customs and Centre for Food Safety boost efforts to combat illegal food imports


15th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong Customs and the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) have reaffirmed their commitment to jointly combat the illegal import or smuggling of regulated food. The two departments will continue to work closely together on all fronts to ensure food safety.

Since the resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland in February 2023, Customs has detected approximately 400 cases of illegal imports of regulated food in the first quarter of this year. This accounts for about 40% of the total cases detected last year, indicating a recent upward trend in such cases. Of these cases, more than 80% were discovered among incoming passengers. However, no large-scale regulated food smuggling cases have been identified during this period.

The CFS highlighted the risks associated with illegally imported food, which may originate from unknown sources and lack regulatory oversight. Such food could have been exposed to unsafe temperatures and unhygienic conditions during smuggling or delivery, posing significant food safety hazards and endangering public health.

As the Labour Day Golden Week approaches, Customs and the CFS issued a reminder to the public not to engage in the illegal importation of regulated food from the Mainland or overseas for the sake of convenience. Doing so not only avoids criminal liability but also safeguards personal health.

Importing game, meat, poultry, or eggs without the required health certificate or written permission from the FEHD is an offence under the Imported Game, Meat, Poultry and Eggs Regulations (Cap. 132AK). Offenders can face a fine of HK$50,000 and imprisonment for six months. Moreover, under the Import and Export Ordinance, importing or exporting unmanifested cargo carries a maximum penalty of a HK$2 million fine and seven years’ imprisonment.