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Food and Environmental Hygiene Department
Controlling Officer's Environmental Report 2008

Our Services | Food Safety | Environmental Hygiene Services | Administration and Development Services | Our Impact on the Environment

Chapter 2 - PROFILE OF KEY RESPONSIBILITIES

Our Services

We deliver our services through the Centre for Food Safety, the Environmental Hygiene Branch, and the Administration and Development Branch (organization chart as below). The following paragraphs give an overview of our operations that have an impact on the environment.

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Food Safety

We monitor the safety of imported and locally produced food to ensure that food available for human consumption is wholesome, unadulterated and properly labelled. We also aim to safeguard public health through testing and control of imported live food animals; and to advise the public on risk management measures in relation to food and public health matters. Our major areas of work in regard to food safety control having environmental impact include food surveillance and control; and risk assessment and communication.

Food Surveillance and Control

To ensure safety of food supply in Hong Kong, we undertake continuous monitoring, testing and enforcement action. Food samples are taken at import, wholesale and retail points for chemical, microbiological, radioactivity and toxicological tests to ascertain their fitness for human consumption. Pre-packaged food is also checked for compliance with food labelling laws.

Risk Assessment and Communication

Under the risk analysis model for food safety control, we conduct risk assessment on food hazards and recommend food standards. On risk communication, we emphasise the importance of tripartite collaboration among the Government, food trade and consumers in ensuring food safety. We promote food safety messages to the food trade and public through various channels. We also promote the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles to the food trade and in particular the high risk sectors to enhance food safety.

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Environmental Hygiene Services

We strive to provide and maintain a clean and hygienic living environment for the people of Hong Kong. Major environmental hygiene services that have direct environmental impact include public cleansing services, licensing and control of food businesses, provision and management of environmental hygiene and related facilities, and hawker management.

Public Cleansing Services

We are committed to keeping public places clean, tidy and free from litter. Direct public cleansing services range from street sweeping and washing, collection of household waste and street waste, gully cleansing, desludging, to managing public cleansing facilities like refuse collection points (RCPs), public toilets and bathhouses.  The Department and its cleansing contractors deploy a total workforce of about 8 600 to provide these cleansing services.

We provide some 20 300 litter containers, 490 dog toilets and 1 040 dog excreta collection bins throughout Hong Kong. There are 3 117 RCPs in Hong Kong for the temporary storage of street waste and household waste pending collection. Household waste is collected at least once a day at these RCPs and some 5 160 tonnes of household waste are collected daily by refuse collection vehicles managed either by ourselves or our contractors.

Licensing and Control of Food Businesses

We license food businesses to safeguard public health and safety and conduct regular inspection to ensure hygiene standards of licensed food premises are met. We also take law enforcement actions such as prosecutions, imposition of court orders, daily fines and suspension or cancellation of licences against unhygienic premises.

Provision and Management of Environmental Hygiene and Related Facilities

We are responsible for the management of a wide variety of environmental hygiene and related facilities for public convenience. In total, we manage 40 cooked food centres, 25 free-standing cooked food markets and 80 public markets, 458 public toilets, 28 public bathhouses, 11 public cemeteries, 6 crematoria and 8 columbaria and gardens of remembrance. In line with our service commitment, we will continue to improve these facilities where necessary to upgrade their quality, subject to availability of resources.

Hawker Management

On-street hawking is an economic activity with a long history. Through licensing and enforcement of legislation, we aim to minimise the environmental nuisance caused by street trading activities.

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Administration and Development Services

Planning of Capital and Minor Works Projects

We are responsible for the planning of new capital works projects and minor improvement works to existing departmental facilities relating to markets, RCPs, public toilets, crematoria and columbaria. We will continue to do our best in reducing the environmental impact during the construction and operational phases of these projects, and in including environmentally friendly facilities as far as possible.

Public Education and Campaigns

Public awareness of maintaining a clean and hygienic environment is enhanced through our public education in an integrated approach. We run a Health Education Exhibition and Resource Centre at Tsim Sha Tsui to organise publicity and educational programmes for the community. We also disseminate environmental hygiene messages through different media and various campaigns.  

Pest Control

We give advice on pest control and prevention to government departments and the general public. Our work includes surveillance and monitoring of pest problems to prevent local transmission and investigation of vector-borne diseases. Operational services on pest control are provided on a district basis.

Internal Administration Support

We maintain a departmental fleet of some 800 vehicles to provide support services, of which over 200 are specialized vehicles such as Refuse Collection Vehicles and Street Washing Vehicles.

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Our Impact on the Environment

Operations and Services Environmental Impact
Provision of public cleansing services
- Public places are kept clean and tidy.
- Wastes (street waste and household waste) are handled in an environmentally responsible manner.
Licensing and control of food businesses
- Through licensing and enforcement action, the operation of food businesses is kept under control to prevent environmental nuisance (e.g. discharge of effluents, greasy waste, and exhaust fumes).
Provision and management of environmental hygiene and related facilities
- Pollution to the environment is reduced through proper management of environmental hygiene and related facilities.
- A clean and hygienic environment is maintained.
Cremation services
- Emission of air pollutants from new cremators is strictly controlled and monitored to meet commitments in the Clean Air Charter.
Pest control
- Impact on the environment in pest control operations is minimized as far as possible.
Planning of capital and minor works projects
- Environmental impact of our planned facilities is closely monitored and minimised as far as possible during the works and implementation periods.
Public education and campaigns
- Public awareness of the importance of environmental hygiene is enhanced.
Departmental vehicles
- Emission of air pollutants is strictly controlled and monitored to meet commitments in the Clean Air Charter.
Green housekeeping
- Consumption of energy and resources (electricity, paper, water, stationery, etc.) and generation of solid waste are closely monitored to reduce environmental impact.

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