Food business measures enhanced

February 17, 2023

The Food & Environmental Hygiene Department announced today it will implement two measures to enhance the licensing system for the food business to benefit food business operators and customers from March 1.


With a view to streamlining application procedures and shortening processing times, as well as facilitating compliance with the licensing requirements, the department is introducing the Professional Certification System which will adopt an approach of licence first, inspection later for the issue of full licences.


Under the new system, the department will accept a Certificate of Compliance and final layout plans provided by an authorised person or a registered structural engineer as the certification for compliance with all health requirements for the issue of a full licence.


After issuing the full licence, the department’s staff will conduct on-site audit checks to confirm premises' compliance with all health requirements.


This enhancement measure will first be applicable to light refreshment restaurants (LRRs) and food factories (FFs). Applicants of LRR and FF licences are free to choose between the current system and the new system for the application of full licences.


Subject to the smooth implementation of the new system and support from the trade, the department will consider extending the new measure to other food business licences.


Meanwhile, under the prevailing LRR licensing regime, licensees may only choose to sell food from one of the six specified groups of food items.


Given that the types of cuisine and cooking methods have become more diversified over the years, the department has decided to relax the restrictions on the scope of food items that can be sold at LRRs on the premise that food safety and environmental hygiene would not be compromised.


Restrictions will be imposed on the cooking methods instead. Under the new regulatory regime, an LRR can basically sell any food item. As LRRs are generally small in scale and use simple cooking equipment, they are only allowed to adopt simple cooking methods that do not generate a large amount of greasy fumes during food preparation.


Also, no cooking or food re-heating activities such as hotpots, teppanyaki or Korean style barbeques are allowed in the seating area.


The department said the new regulatory regime will enhance the flexibility for the operation of over 4,300 LRRs in the city. As they are allowed to sell more types of food, members of the public will also benefit from having more choices.


The initiative will apply to all LRR licences applied after March 1. Current LRR licensees or applicants may choose to adhere to the original mode of operation or they may apply for an amendment to the specified groups of food items on their existing licences.

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