Hygiene war may include tougher points system for wet markets

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 August, 2003, 12:00am

The government is considering a new demerit points system to help keep wet markets clean, according to the food and environmental hygiene chief.

Speaking at a special meeting of Legco's food safety and environmental hygiene panel, Gregory Leung Wing-lup said Team Clean was considering classifying different hygiene offences according to their severity.

Stallholders breaching the rules could see their lease terminated.

Under the present system, stall owners who have been convicted four times in one year have their lease terminated, regardless of the severity of the offences.

Mr Leung said the new system would impose penalties on a sliding scale, according to the severity of the offence. The department manages 105 public markets housing about 16,000 stalls.

'For serious offences including using prohibited preservatives or doing business dishonestly, such as claiming frozen meat is fresh meat, more points will be deducted,' he said.

'We are considering deducting three points for minor offences such as obstructing public areas with goods.'

Mr Leung also told the panel more than 3,000 tickets had been issued to litterbugs since the fine was raised to $1,500 on June 26. He said conflicts between health inspectors and offenders were common. Police were providing relevant training for department staff on ways to prevent conflict and minimise violence.

In the meeting, government officials also came under fire for failing to consult the poultry and catering industry before Team Clean announced a series of drastic hygiene measures, including a proposed ban on live chickens.