The Agricultural Chemicals and Veterinary Drugs Unit under the Slaughterhouse (Veterinary) Section is responsible for the control on admission of food animals to slaughterhouses, and sampling and testing on agricultural chemical and veterinary drug residues. It enforces the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Chemical Residues) Regulation (Cap. 139N) (the Regulation) to conduct monitoring and surveillance programmes for prevention of the entry of drug and chemical residues into the food chain.

Control on the Use of Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals in Food Animals

Feeding of drugs and chemicals to food animals (including pigs, cattle and goats) can leave residues in the meat, offal and other parts of the animals. With the possibility of food poisoning arising from consumption of these residues, there is a need to conduct surveillance programmes to control the feeding of drugs and chemicals to the food animals.

Seven prohibited chemicals including two antibiotics, two beta-agonists and three hormones are listed in the Regulation. These chemicals are prohibited because of their possible harmful side effects in humans. Among them, beta-agonists have caused many food poisoning cases in Hong Kong.

The maximum residue limit (MRL) for tissues of food animals is also set in relation to a concentration of an agricultural and veterinary chemical under the Regulation. A total of 37 restricted chemicals are listed in the Regulation and they are antibiotics or antiparasitic agents.

Sampling and Testing on Agricultural Chemical and Veterinary Drug Residues

Samples are collected from every consignment of pigs entering the slaughterhouses in Hong Kong for testing of agricultural chemical and veterinary drug residues. The lots of animals in the slaughterhouses found to contain prohibited chemicals in the samples are withheld from entering the food chain and will be destroyed. The relevant information is referred to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department or the relevant Mainland authorities for further actions from the farm level.

There are 44 drugs under monitoring. About 50 000 different samples including urine, serum and other tissues from pigs, cattle, goats and chickens are expected to be collected for laboratory examination each year.

  2015 2016 2017
No. of pig urine samples collected 49 030 44 897 45 021
No. of positive cases in prohibited chemicals 1 2 1