Waiting for the Health Department ritual

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 May, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 May, 1994, 12:00am

IN RESPONSE to your article on seafood contamination (Sunday Morning Post, May 22), I am tempted to ask whether this is the beginning of an annual ritual.

In previous years you published similar articles which raised real evidence of serious contamination of local seafood and urged government action to protect the health of Hong Kong citizens.

The next step in the ritual is that within the next few days the Health Department will make a high profile public announcement to the effect that: Seafood in Hong Kong is perfectly safe to eat.

The methods used by the independent laboratories which ''proved'' the contamination were inaccurate and invalid. (This claim will not be substantiated.) There is no need for alarm.

Seafood can be made safe by ''thorough cooking'' (if you boil your shrimps for 30 minutes).

The Health Department is doing everything it can to protect the health of the people of Hong Kong.

The final step in the ritual is that the department will not do anything further to investigate or control this problem, and that the legislature will be conspicuous by its inaction.

The sad fact is that the Health Department and the Government have proved by their inaction that they have no intention of attempting to resolve this problem. Simple regulations which could be adopted to force retailers to store seafood in safe water have not even been considered.

As a result, live seafood vendors all over Hong Kong have continued to take the least cost option and store their seafood in disgustingly unsanitary conditions, using water drawn directly from typhoon shelters which are little better than open sewers.