The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) plans to regulate online food vendors in the first quarter of this year, targeting those selling restricted foods such as raw seafood, meat as well as dairy.
Online vendors will need to apply for permits for restricted food categories their products fall in. Companies will also be required to provide certificates of origin for applicable products and a registered address before the new policies are enacted.
The registered location will not be allowed to store or process foods, according to Senior Superintendent (Licensing) Sum Siu-hin.
Companies will also need to show that their products are legally sourced, safely stored and shipped. There is currently no planned grace period before these regulations take effect, according to Sum.
HKTV Mall, which sells food through its online platform, has said that they currently only allow merchants with physical stores and licenses to sell on their website. HKTV told HKFP that they “support the new regulation to secure food hygiene for the public [and] will apply for relevant licenses upon commencement”.
Speaking to Mingpao, ex-Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said there may be loopholes in the new regulation if it does not include foods containing elements of restricted foods. It may exclude products such as sandwiches, he said.
The safety of ordering through online food vendors came into question last year when 96 people were poisoned after consuming Horng Ryen Jen sandwiches, some of which were purchased online.
Loopholes in the law allowed online platforms to sell sashimi without relevant licenses. This prompted the government to consider new regulations overseeing online vendors.