The Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap. 132CM) will come into operation tomorrow (August 1). The Regulation aims to enhance regulatory control of pesticide residues in food to protect public health.
A spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) said, "The Legislative Council completed scrutiny of the Regulation in June 2012. The two-year grace period, provided to allow sufficient time for the trade to prepare for the commencement of the Regulation, expires today (July 31)."
The standards for pesticide residues in food developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) form the backbone of the regulatory framework. The Regulation specifies in Schedule 1 a list of maximum residue limits (MRLs) and extraneous maximum residue limits (EMRLs) for certain pesticide-food pairs, i.e. the maximum concentration of specified pesticide residues permitted in specific food commodities. The formulation of Schedule 1 to the Regulation was based primarily on the available standards recommended by Codex in 2011, supplemented by standards of the Mainland and other major food exporting places to Hong Kong available at that time, while taking into consideration comments received from stakeholders during the public consultation. The presence of any pesticide residue in food at levels exceeding the MRLs/EMRLs is not permitted under the Regulation.
Schedule 2 to the Regulation specifies a list of exempted pesticides. These are pesticides that are natural and the residues of which are identical to or indistinguishable from natural food components. Exemption of these natural pesticides is intended to facilitate their use by the trade.
The general principle of the Regulation is that except for exempted pesticides, import or sale of food containing pesticide residues with no specified MRLs/EMRLs in Schedule 1 is only allowed if the consumption of the food concerned is not dangerous or prejudicial to health. Based on risk assessment, the CFS will decide whether the consumption of the food concerned is dangerous or prejudicial to health.
Any person who imports, manufactures or sells any food not in compliance with the requirements of the Regulation concerning pesticide residues commits an offence and is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for six months.
The CFS spokesman advised that food traders should deal with reputable food suppliers who could provide documentary proof on compliance with the Regulation and keep the relevant transaction documents for record.
During the grace period, the CFS has conducted a series of briefings for the trade and other interested stakeholders to prepare for the commencement of the Regulation. The CFS has also prepared guidelines on the interpretation of MRLs/EMRLs in the Regulation as well as use of the Codex's food classification to identify the appropriate pesticide residue limits etc to assist the trade in complying with the requirements of the Regulation.
The CFS has also set up the Hong Kong Pesticide MRL Database on its website (www.cfs.gov.hk) to assist the trade and the general public in finding relevant MRLs/EMRLs for concerned pesticide-food pairs. Details of the Regulation and relevant guidelines have also been uploaded to the CFS' website.
Ends/Thursday, July 31, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:07