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
This Department 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.
This 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 Centre for Food Safety of Food and Environment Hygiene Department at 43/F, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong for payment.
Food importers, through close liaison with exporting countries, are responsible for ensuring that milk or milk beverages they procured comply with the local legislation. The Food Safety Ordinance (Chapter 612) has commenced its full operation on 1 February 2012. Sections 4 and 5 of the Ordinance require any person who carries on a food importation/ distribution business to register with the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene (DFEH) as a food importer/ food distributor. For more details about the scheme and the registration procedures, please read the "Guide to the Registration Scheme for Food Importers and Food Distributors" available at the designed website (www.foodsafetyord.gov.hk).
Importers should pay attention to the specific import procedures for these food products as set out below.
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. Before importing these food products into Hong Kong, importers need to apply to the Food Import & Export Section of the Centre for Food Safety through on-line system at FTP website (www.ftp.cfs.gov.hk) or paper-mode application and provide the following information either in English or Chinese or accompanied by a verified translation in either English or Chinese:
- Copy of valid registration certificate of the product’s manufacturing plant issued by a competent authority of the place of food origin;
- Supply certificate issued by the manufacturer certifying that it is the direct supplier of the product, together with the manufacturing flowchart showing details of the production facilities, heat-treatment method, etc.;
- Test report on the quality of water used in the manufacturing plant for food production, including results of coliform bacteria and free residual chlorine levels;
- Test report showing the chemical composition of the product;
- Test report showing the microbiological quality of the product;
- Declaration by the manufacturer on the shelf-life of the product;
- Sample of empty container of the product;
- Full clear pictures of the product package (showing clearly the brand name, product name, ingredients, heat-treatment method, name and address of the manufacturer, name and address of the importer);
- Specimen of certificate issued by a competent authority of the place of food origin certifying the product has been subject to appropriate heat-treatment, has been handled, processed and packed under satisfactory hygienic conditions, meets specific quality standards and is fit for human consumption; in case legal reference is quoted in the certificate, a copy of the original text of the relevant legislation shall be attached.
In addition to the information and documents listed above, this Department may require the applicant to provide other supplementary information and documents depending on individual circumstances.
Arrival of Consignment
After obtaining the approval and satisfying other conditions which may be imposed by the 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 :
- grant an approval of a source of manufacture within 12 working days on the condition that all the required information and material have been received; and
- issue "release letters" within 14 working days upon receipt of notification of arrival or actual arrival of consignments and receipt of all import documents whichever is later.
Where to make applications
Traders who have opened user accounts in the Food Trader Portal (FTP) may submit applications for import permission online round-the-clock at FTP website: (www.ftp.cfs.gov.hk). Upon approval, the permission will be sent to the applicant's FTP account.
Paper Mode Application
Completed application form Form No. FEHB 290 (for milk/milk beverage) or Form No. FEHB 292 (for raw milk) should be forwarded together with the aforesaid information/documents to the Centre for Food Safety of Food and Environmental Hygiene Department at 43/F, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong (by hand or post only). Upon approval, the permission in writing will be sent to the applicant by post.
Validity and Renewal of Permission
The importer permission is valid for one year from the date of issue. Application for renewal shall be submitted on-line through FTP website (www.ftp.cfs.gov.hk) or in writing by Application Form No. FEHB 291 to the Centre for Food Safety of Food and Environmental Hygiene Department at 43/F, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong by hand or post only within three months before expiry. Special attention is drawn as late applications will be not accepted.
For enquiries, please contact the Food Import & Export Section (Tel: 2867 5577) or 1823 Government Hotline. Enquiries may also be sent to the e-mail address: email@example.com or by fax at 2521 4784.
Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department