New department for food safety
A new department will be set up to deal with food safety issues, the chief executive said.
The Food Safety, Inspection and Quarantine Department will consolidate functions performed by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.
It will monitor and control imported and local live food and non-food animals, poultry and birds, and the safety of vegetables, meat, seafood and other food products.
'In carrying out this work, the new department will liaise closely with relevant experts and academics as well as consumers. It will listen to their views on food safety standards to ensure that our people can eat with peace of mind,' the chief executive said.
The new department differs from recently announced plans to set up a food safety centre within the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. The decision to set it up was prompted by recent food scares involving the pig-borne bacteria Streptococcus suis and the cancer-causing substance malachite green, found in freshwater fish from the mainland and saltwater fish from Taiwan.
It is not clear from Mr Tsang's speech whether all the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department's food functions will be taken over by the new department.
The legislator for the medical sector, Kwok Ka-ki, said he was disappointed with the decision to set up a separate department.
Its head 'should be someone who has extensive experience and knowledge in food safety and control of food, not people from the administrative officers' grade', Dr Kwok said. 'The administration is missing the point.'