Hong Kong launches public consultation on proposed amendments to preservatives in food regulation

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29th May 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Hong Kong government has launched a three-month public consultation exercise on the proposed amendments to the Preservatives in Food Regulation (Cap. 132BD) in a bid to enhance food safety. The consultation exercise will last until 28th August.

According to a government spokesman, the initiative is part of a broader effort to review and update food safety legislation relating to additives in food, as set out in the Policy Measures of the Chief Executive’s 2022 Policy Address. The first phase of the review covers preservatives and antioxidants in food.

The government plans to update the regulation to keep local standards of preservatives and antioxidants in food in line with international standards. This will also include putting more preservatives and antioxidants under regulation to enhance clarity and offer more choices of permitted preservatives and antioxidants applicable to a wide range of food categories to the food trade. It will also enhance consumer protection.

The Environment and Ecology Bureau and the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department have made reference to the latest General Standard on Food Additives of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in reviewing the regulation and formulating the proposed amendments. The review is also supplemented with standards of the Mainland and other major food trading partners.

The proposed amendments include updating the definitions of “preservatives” and “antioxidants” with reference to the definitions of the Codex, updating the list of permitted preservativesand antioxidants, and updating or stipulating the maximum permitted levels of the permitted preservatives and antioxidants in specific food categories.

The government proposes that a transitional period of 18 months be given after the amended legislation is enacted, so that the food trade and other stakeholders will have a reasonable time to make adjustments to comply with the amended regulation.

The consultation document is available on the websites of the Environment and Ecology Bureau and the CFS. Members of the public are encouraged to offer their views on the proposals via email, fax, or post within the consultation period. The government will also conduct consultation forums to collect views from the public.

The proposed amendments to the Preservatives in Food Regulation aim to enhance food safety in Hong Kong. With the consultation exercise, the government hopes to gather feedback and opinions from the public and other stakeholders to ensure that the amended regulation is balanced and effective.