Greenpeace further exposes loopholes in vegetables monitoring

Press release - 2007-04-12
Greenpeace today further exposes loopholes in Hong Kong vegetables monitoring system, including banned pesticide still being found in vegetables available in wet markets; Man Kam To Food Control Office have exaggerated the frequency of sampling taken at the border, and Hong Kong legislation progress is far behind than Mainland China.

Greenpeace further exposes loopholes in vegetables monitoring, and issues a joint statement together with the fruit and vegetables industry, consumer groups, legislators and political parties, urging the Government for the timetable for food safety legislation, so as to strengthen Hong Kong food safety monitoring system.

Greenpeace further exposes loopholes in vegetables monitoring, and issues a joint statement together with the fruit and vegetables industry, consumer groups, legislators and political parties, urging the Government for the timetable for food safety legislation, so as to strengthen Hong Kong food safety monitoring system.

Greenpeace issues a joint statement together with the fruit and vegetables industry, consumer groups, legislators and political parties ( Appendix 1), urging the Government for the timetable for food safety legislation, so as to strengthen Hong Kong food safety monitoring system.

Heath, Welfare and Food Bureau responded that the Government is drafting a comprehensive set of Food Safety Legislation, which will cover high risk and most concerned food. Yet, the legislative progress announced in the legislative council before includes fishes and eggs only, vegetables legislation timetable is still absent. Chow Yuen-ping, Assistant Campaigner of Food Safety, Greenpeace points out,   "Fishes, eggs, plus fruit and vegetables safety are all our staple food and the legislation progress should be done simultaneously."

Greenpeace indicts that no improvement has been made since the group first reported pesticide found in vegetables a year ago. They have been closely monitoring the regulation effort of Government on vegetables, and conducted another round of testing by collecting 20 samples from various districts across Hong Kong early this year ( Appendix 2). According to the testing results, 4 samples are found to be contaminated by banned pesticide or pesticide residues exceeding standard, including highly toxic banned pesticide Carbofuran found on a Dutch bean sample. One small pak choi sample also contains pesticide residue exceeding EU standard for 4.4 times. The result is deemed as a clear indication of the zero improvement of the food safety in Hong Kong throughout the year.

In addition, Greenpeace presents evidence of data manipulation by the FEHD Man Kam To Food Control Office. According to the department's report of the performance pledge, a total of more than 20,000 vehicles carrying vegetables were inspected by the Man Kam To Food Control Office in 2006, equivalent to 100% of all passing vegetable lorries ( Appendix 3). However, the group has made on-site documentary in which a great number of lorries loaded with vegetables simply bypassed the Man Kam To Food Control Office, where vegetable lorries are supposed to undergo pesticide residue inspection.

Chow Yuen-ping, Assistant Campaigner of Food Safety, Greenpeace points out, "FEHD vegetable inspection at the border is obviously useless. The figure from FEHD is misleading the public! The results repeatedly show that the Government simply has no effective policy to guarantee the vegetable safety in Hong Kong."

While the Mainland authority has already implemented a series of new measures to improve vegetable supply control since 1st April this year, the Hong Kong Government has no corresponding legislation on regulating imports of fruit and vegetables. The passive and impotent Hong Kong Government effectively fails all of Hong Kong people in securing food safety.

Food Safety Expert Committee and the Legislative Council's motion in January this year, however, have made it clear that comprehensive food safety legislation is undoubtedly urgent. Yet in the name of research and consultation, no real progress has been made by the government, concrete legislation timetable is still absent. As a result, food safety crisis is still haunting the city as a whole ( Appendix 4).

In view of this, Greenpeace aligned the production and trade sectors in the fruit and vegetables industry, consumer groups and community representatives, jointly fire a demand for speeding up the legislation of food safety. Activists from Greenpeace will hand the "Joint statement on legislating for safe fruit and vegetables" to York Chow, head of Heath, Welfare and Food Bureau, to call upon the Government to prompt the legislation process on food safety.

"Greenpeace for sure will keep watching our food safety. As long as the Government does not publicly announce the timetable for legislation, ignoring the health of the public in an apathetic manner, the possibility of escalating the level of action will not be ruled out." Chow warned.

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