Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan said at a Legislative Council meeting today (29th) in response to a question raised by Catering Councillor Cheung Yu-yan whether live poultry will be imported from the mainland on a limited basis in response to the reduction of the risk of avian influenza to enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness as a "city of gastronomy", saying that Hong Kong has not banned the import of miscellaneous poultry including live chickens and pigeons from the Mainland, but since the beginning of 2017, the mainland has not supplied live poultry to Hong Kong, which is believed to be based on a commercial decision.


Mr Tse also said that in the future, an appropriate number of live poultry stalls would be added to new public markets or modernised markets that have been fully refurbished or reconstructed, as circumstances permit, and that the new public markets to be built in Area 67 of Tseung Kwan O would have two live poultry stalls.


Cheung Yu-yan, a member of the Legislative Council of the catering sector, said that some members of the catering industry have reported that the recovery speed after the epidemic has been slow, and the Cantonese cuisine of local restaurants has been greatly tarnished due to the failure to use fresh poultry in their dishes. They believe that as the risk of avian influenza to Hong Kong has been relatively reduced, the Government must increase the choice of fresh ingredients in the market to enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness as a gastronomic capital. therefore, whether the authorities will consider allowing local farms to keep poultry such as ducks, geese and suckling pigeons appropriately, so as to restore the supply of such live poultry; and whether it will consider discussing with the relevant Mainland departments to allow an appropriate amount of poultry such as live ducks, geese and suckling pigeons to be supplied to Hong Kong, and whether it will consider supplying live poultry to restaurants under specific control measures, so that traditional dishes prepared with live poultry can continue to be promoted and retained.

Mr Tse pointed out that some restaurants had purchased freshly slaughtered local live chickens from live poultry retailers for cooking. (File photo/Photo by Liang Pengwei)

Live poultry stalls can be re-established in the market, and the window sales method is designed

In response, Tse said that some restaurants are currently buying freshly slaughtered local live chickens from live poultry retailers for cooking, and the risk assessment recently conducted by the authorities has shown that the biosecurity measures currently adopted can effectively control the avian influenza risk associated with live chickens. Therefore, without prejudice to the prevention of the risk of avian influenza transmission, an appropriate number of live poultry stalls will be added to new public markets or modernised markets that have been completely refurbished or reconstructed in the future, as circumstances permit. The new live poultry stalls will be designed with strict hygienic window displays, a dedicated slaughterhouse to completely separate purchasers from live poultry, and individual air-conditioning, air extraction and air filtration systems to ensure hygiene.

He also pointed out that the current risk of avian influenza in Hong Kong can be maintained at a manageable level thanks to the implementation of various prevention and control measures at various levels over the years. The HKSAR Government will continue to closely monitor the outbreak of avian influenza in neighbouring areas, assess the risk of avian influenza transmission, strictly implement various prevention and control measures, and make timely adjustments to cope with the avian influenza situation. As the risk of avian influenza still exists, there are no plans to request the Mainland authorities to resume the export of live waterfowl to Hong Kong.

Registered live poultry farms are not supplied to Hong Kong mainly based on commercial decisions

As for miscellaneous poultry such as live chickens and pigeons, Hong Kong has not banned the import of live poultry from the Mainland, and the Taiwan authorities have always been open-minded. However, since the beginning of 2017, the Mainland has not supplied live poultry to Hong Kong. The HKSAR Government has been in communication with the relevant Mainland authorities on matters relating to the supply of food from the Mainland, including live poultry, to Hong Kong. The authorities believe that the cessation of supply of registered live poultry farms to Hong Kong is mainly based on commercial decisions.

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