Let Hong Kong diners be the judge of food safety standards

I really cannot get my head around the HK$50 million (US$6.5 million) proposal from the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades for a certification scheme for food safety, supposedly to contain the spread of Covid-19 (“Hong Kong restaurant group to roll out food safety scheme to ‘rescue’ industry”, August 11).
I know the sector is reeling as are we, the suppliers to it. But this makes no sense! There are enough guidelines and rules in place on food safety. To operate a restaurant, food stall, food factory or basically any entity dealing with food, licences are required, issued by the government’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. It is quite onerous to get a licence. Once they are obtained, are they policed effectively? Probably not – there’s the rub.
In addition, for us in the food catering business, our larger, responsible clients insist on a higher level of food safety accreditation, such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) systems. We are audited annually by the customers themselves as well as third-party organisations such as SGS. Our customers police us. So why cannot you, the people, speak up and police restaurants yourselves?
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There is no need for any more accreditation. Why don’t you speak with action? Only go to restaurants that are clean and accredited. And ask to see the accreditation. If you believe in saving the oceans, then only eat at restaurants that show they can supply responsibly sourced seafood and, again, are accredited.
If you, the consumer, can take this step, you will create change. You will change the industry and most likely also help in the reduction of Covid-19 in addition to other nasty bugs. No more certifications please. Just be educated and proactive.
Chris Hanselman, Tsim Sha Tsui
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