Resistance to chilled mainland pork thaws

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2006, 12:00am

The government is ready to import chilled pork from the mainland, as soon as the legislature agrees on whether a licensing framework should be in place first.

Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene Gregory Leung Wing-lup told a Legco panel yesterday the department had inspected three of the four selected chilled pork plants in Guangdong and Shenzhen and found they met food safety requirements.

'Technically speaking, if all of us agree today, we can do it, we can inform the relevant bodies immediately. However, we still need a bit of time to make the related arrangements as this is a completely new thing,' he said.

Mr Leung also said they had no policy objections to the proposals for separate licences for the sale of fresh and chilled meat and that both activities should not take place in the same premises.

According to government figures, there are 330 traders selling chilled pork from Thailand now.

Legislators at yesterday's meeting were divided on whether a licensing arrangement is the pre-requisite for the imports.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong legislator Wong Yung-kan, who represents the agriculture and fisheries sector, said it would be better to have the new, separate, licensing system in place before imports begin.

The Liberal Party's Vincent Fang Kang, for the wholesale and retail sector, agreed. 'There should be a complete set of plans in place before we allow in the chilled pork [from the mainland],' he said.

But Kwok Ka-ki, representing the medical sector, felt that since the government had already granted mainland chilled pork suppliers a clean bill of health, there was no excuse to delay.