Call to close hygiene loopholes

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 February, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 February, 1996, 12:00am

REGIONAL Councillors called yesterday for tougher measures to stop food manufacturers exploiting loopholes in hygiene laws.

In the case of Nestle Dairy Farm's unlicensed production at its new Yuen Long plant, Democrat Lam Wing-yin said, nearly two months elapsed before the first summons reached the firm.

'The Regional Services Department decided to prosecute the company as early as mid-December last year, but the summons only managed to reach Nestle on February 5,' Mr Lam said.

'The prosecution procedure should be shortened because, in the two months in between, the company could really make a lot of money out of the unlicensed plant.' Mr Lam, a member of the council's Environmental Hygiene Select Committee, said he was disappointed that Nestle took no action over the department's suggestions last year that changes be made at the plant to speed up licensing.

Nestle's milk licence was issued early this week. The production of bakery and confectionery items was suspended on February 4.

Nestle said it had been working 'very closely' with the department to get the remaining licences, but the spokesman would not say whether production would resume before the licences were issued.

The spokesman said Nestle had received no consumer complaints and was trying to confirm the legitimacy of media reports. The group had recalled a batch of silver-capped fresh milk, but denied plans to recall other products.

'There is no reason for a recall as there have not been any questions about health risks,' she stressed.

The Department of Health found bacteria levels exceeded the standard in one of 25 samples, but the level posed no threat to humans.