As online shopping is becoming increasingly popular, more and more enterprises are tapping into the business opportunities by offering various kinds of food and groceries for sale on the internet with the purchase delivered straight to the customers. Traders should note that food safety regulations governing traditional business activities related to the import, sale and advertising of food products are also applicable to sale activities conducted online.
Local legal requirements that traders should comply with:
- For the importation of certain high-risk food commodities
- an import licence is required for the import of chilled/frozen meat or chilled/frozen poultry
- game, meat and poultry can only be imported from approved country of origin
- a permission is required for the import of milk or milk beverages and frozen confections and they can only be imported from approved sources of manufacture
- For the sale, advertising or display of prepackaged food products
- local food labelling requirements as stipulated in the Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) Regulations (Chapter 132W)
Apart from the above mentioned requirements, any person who carries on a food business (including importation or distribution) must register as a food importer/distributor and maintain records of the movements of food as stipulated in the Food Safety Ordinance (Chapter 612). Moreover, traders should observe the basic food law in Hong Kong laid down in Part V of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Chapter 132) and its subsidiary legislation.
Consumer transactions conducted outside Hong Kong's jurisdiction are subject to risk. For instance, the extent of protection accorded to consumers may be different from Hong Kong. Member of the public should exercise greater care in buying high risk food online to safeguard food safety.