Online purchase of high-risk restricted foods
Online food shopping has become more popular in recent years, and it is rather convenient to order food or have meals delivered via websites or mobile apps. Consumers, however, should exercise caution when purchasing food online, particularly high-risk (restricted) foods. It is best to double-check the licence/permit details of the food premises before placing an order for ensuring food safety.

Patronise premises with a licence/permit
In Hong Kong, the sale of food is regulated by law no matter it is sold online or in physical shops. All food business operators, whether having physical shop or not, who sell restricted foods online must obtain written permission from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD).

When purchasing restricted food online, including high-risk restricted foods such as raw oysters, sushi, and sashimi, customers should patronise reliable shops or online stores granted with licences/restricted food permits. Licensing conditions of the licence/permit require such shops or online stores to provide information on their websites, online platform accounts, printed promotional materials, including:

This facilitates consumers' reference and verification on the FEHD's website.

Verify on FEHD's website
Consumers can visit this website to find the lists of food premises with licences or permits, as well as online shops (without physical stores) with restricted food permit (online sale of restricted food).

Risks of cross-boundary meal order and delivery
Consumers should be cautious and pay attention to the delivery time and temperature control of the food when ordering cross-boundary meals delivered by agents. Meals that need to be delivered over a long distance will be prone to spoilage during the delivery process if there is no proper control over food storage temperature and delivery time.

Most pathogenic bacteria grow and multiply rapidly at the temperature danger zone between 4°C and 60°C. To ensure food safety, hot food and cold food should be kept above 60°C and at or below 4°C respectively during delivery process. If meals are kept within the temperature danger zone, the two-hour and four-hour principle should be followed (i.e. if prepared food is kept at room temperature for less than two hours, it can be refrigerated for later use; if cooked food has been held at room temperature for more than four hours, it should be discarded).

Food safety on online purchase of food
Upon receiving, consumers should consume the food as soon as possible. When ordering online for delivery food, high-risk foods, such as raw or semi-cooked food should be best avoided, especially for susceptible populations, as delivery without proper refrigeration increases risks.


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