Health chiefs in rallying call for food safety centre

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 January, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 January, 2006, 12:00am

Health chiefs yesterday appealed to legislators and staff to support the government's Centre for Food Safety initiative because delaying it would not be prudent.

Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow Yat-ngok and Permanent Secretary Carrie Yau Tsang Ka-lai made the call while saying that the administration would submit the government's revised plan to the Legislative Council's Establishment Sub-committee on February 8.

The move came a day after legislators rejected for a second time the government's plans for setting up the centre, saying they lacked clarity. A joint meeting of the Legco food and environmental panels questioned the need for 44 health inspectors and a second permanent secretary, why a doctor needed to head the centre, and why control at mainland sources of food was being side-stepped.

Mrs Yau said she had talked to the main political parties and legislators, and had called Dr Chow in Beijing.

'Dr York Chow wants to appeal to legislators to support our initiative in putting the proposal to Legco early,' Mrs Yau said.

She said the controller of the new food safety centre would be the deputy director of Food and Environmental Hygiene (public health) Mak Sin-ping.

She appealed to staff, particularly government vets who have opposed the plan, to support it. 'Everyone has a role to play. It is with good team spirit that we are able to be on top of our job, so I count on their full support.'

A spokesman for government veterinary officers said they remained unconvinced that the proposal was sound.

The administration will seek finance committee approval for $60 million extra money for the centre in April. The centre will be set up by June this year.

'Therefore we feel it will be prudent to take the proposal forward,' Mrs Yau said.