Joint enforcement operations ensure compliance and safety of hairy crabs in Hong Kong market

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21st September 2023 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong Customs and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) have joined forces in a series of enforcement operations since last Friday (15th September) to inspect retail outlets selling hairy crabs across various districts. The objective of these operations is to safeguard consumer rights and uphold food safety standards by ensuring that hairy crabs available in the market comply with relevant laws and regulations.

During the inspections, officers from Customs, the Centre for Food Safety, and the Environmental Hygiene Branch of the FEHD closely monitored the sale of hairy crabs. They also scrutinized supporting documents such as place of origin and health certificates to ensure that the hairy crabs being sold in retail shops are safe for consumption and comply with the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO), the Food Safety Ordinance, and the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance.

So far, a total of 45 hairy crab retail shops have been inspected, and no irregularities have been detected. The joint enforcement operations will continue to ensure ongoing compliance.

In addition to market inspections, Customs officers have utilized a sophisticated big-data analytics system to analyze and verify the compliance of online shops selling hairy crabs with the TDO. This initiative aims to protect the interests of consumers who make online purchases.

Hong Kong Customs places significant emphasis on protecting consumer rights and is prepared to take appropriate enforcement action when violations of the TDO are identified in the market. Traders are reminded not to misrepresent goods or services through false trade descriptions, nor supply or offer to supply goods or services with misleading descriptions. Violators of the TDO may face a maximum fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for up to five years upon conviction.

The FEHD reminds traders that, according to the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance, all food available for sale in Hong Kong, whether imported or locally produced, must be suitable for human consumption. Operating an unlicensed food business or selling restricted foods without permission is a punishable offense, with a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for up to six months upon conviction. Furthermore, under the Food Safety Ordinance, failure to comply with record-keeping requirements related to the movement of food can result in a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for up to three months upon conviction.

Both Customs and the FEHD urge traders not to import or sell hairy crabs of unknown origin. Consumers are advised to make their purchases from reputable shops holding the Shell Fish (Hairy Crab) Permit or possessing relevant written permission granted by the FEHD.

Members of the public who suspect that hairy crabs they have purchased are falsely claimed to be of a particular origin can report their concerns to Customs’ 24-hour hotline at 2545 6182 or via the dedicated crime-reporting email account ([email protected]).

If individuals suspect the sale of hairy crabs without the required permits/permissions or the absence of health certificates, they are encouraged to report such cases to the FEHD by calling the hotline at 2868 0000 or through email ([email protected]).