The purpose of this guide is to provide general guidance for importers who wish to import milk or milk beverages into Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong, the legal framework of food safety control is laid down in Part V of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance, Cap 132 and its subsidiary legislation. A list of the subsidiary legislation is at Appendix. The basic requirement, as stipulated in section 54 of the Ordinance, is that no food intended for sale should be unfit for human consumption. Specifically, Milk Regulation of the Ordinance stipulates requirements and standards for milk or milk beverages.
Importers can purchase the main Ordinance and its subsidiary legislation from the Publications Sales Unit at Room 626, 6/F, North Point Government Offices, 333 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong. Importers may also browse the website (https://www.elegislation.gov.hk/?_lang=en) for the Hong Kong food legislation.
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is responsible for implementing territory-wide policies of food safety control and enforcing the food legislation. To this end, part of its duties is to exercise the power provided under Section 62(1) of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance to collect food samples at points of entry to the territory for analyses, including bacteriological and chemical examinations.
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department will pay the market price of any samples taken from importers. Due to difficulties in ascertaining the price at entry points, the Department will issue a sampling notice to importers when samples are collected. The notice will specify items and quantities of food samples which have been taken. Importers could send an invoice and a copy of the notice afterwards to the Department for payment.
Food importers, through close liaison with exporting countries, are responsible for ensuring that milk or milk beverages they procure comply with the local legislation. Importers should pay attention to the specific import procedures for these food products as set out below.
Application for Approval of Source of Manufacture
The Milk Regulation requires, inter alia, any milk or milk beverage to be imported into Hong Kong from a source of manufacture that has been approved by the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene. Assistant Director (Food Surveillance and Control) of Food and Environmental Hygiene Department exercises the authority on behalf of the Director to make the approval. Before importing these food products into Hong Kong, importers need to apply to the Assistant Director (Food Surveillance and Control) in writing and provide the following information :
- the full name and address of the milk or milk beverage processing plant;
- the law of the country of origin governing the production of milk or milk beverages;
- empty containers of the milk or milk beverage with labels;
- information on the heat treatment method of the milk or milk beverage and facilities, including production equipment and water supply, in the processing plant;
- a certificate from an appropriate authority in the country of origin for the purpose of -
- certifying the effectiveness and efficiency of the heat treatment method in pasteurising or sterilizing the milk or milk beverage and that the products have been handled, processed and packed under hygienic conditions
- showing the chemical and bacteriological quality of the products; and
- a statement from the manufacturer confirming the approximate shelf-life of the products.
Arrival of Consignment
After obtaining the approval and satisfying other conditions which may be imposed by the Assistant Director (Food Surveillance and Control) of Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, importers may import the milk or milk beverages into Hong Kong. Section 59(1)(c) of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance provides the Department with the power to make special procedures for examining imported food. At present, when a milk or milk beverage consignment arrives and before its release, the products will be inspected and if necessary, sampled by the Department. Upon the Department's satisfaction, a "release letter" will be issued to the importer.
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is determined to provide quality service to the public, including importers. In connection with the import of milk or milk beverages, the Department pledges to :
- process applications for approval of a source of manufacture within 12 working days; and
- issue "release letters" within 14 working days upon receipt of notification of arrival or actual arrival of consignments, whichever is later.
Where to make applications or enquiries
Applications related to the import of milk and milk beverages and payment of samples should be addressed to the Centre for Food Safety of Food and Environmental Hygiene Department at 43/F, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong . For enquiries, please contact Chief Health Inspector (Import / Export) 6 (Tel: 2867 5990) or 1823 Government Hotline. Enquiries may also be sent to the e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at 2521 4784.
Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department