Food & Drink labelling in Hong Kong

My rant for the week is about both the poor requirements of food labelling in Hong Kong and the lax enforcement of such standards as do exist.

Firstly ingredients: the Government in its wisdom recently introduced new food labelling regulations for Hong Kong. Not content with accepting that if, say, the food was labelled adequately in English for the US, EU or Australian markets then that would be sufficient, they insisted on imposing their own rules and hence requiring almost all imported foodstuffs to be relabelled specifically for Hong Kong, thereby imposing a significant cost increase on the suppliers or distributors and thence price increases on the consumers.

As an example of the sort of relabelling, I noticed at the weekend that a tin of Del Monte stewed tomatoes, which I had bought in desperation one night because my local stores had (as is often the case) no stock of simple tinned plum or chopped tomatoes, had much more in it that just tomatoes and their juice (as I would have wished). Looking at the US labelling I saw that amongst the ingredients was “High Fructose Corn Syrup”. Not good. But what worried me more was that the additional “for Hong Kong” label that was affixed listed the same ingredient as “Sugar”. This is just wrong. “High Fructose Corn Syrup” is in the true technical sense of the word a combination of sugars, but it is certainly not what most  consumers would understand as “Sugar”. Even the USA, which is fairly liberal in what it allows to be put in its food, requires that HFCS be labelled as such, and in the US products containing HFCS cannot be labelled as containing “only natural ingredients”. So in their infinite wisdom, the HK powers that be have imposed an increased cost on the consumer in order to reduce the amount of information available to them and to mislead them. It does worry me that we have such idiots imposing themselves on this city.

My second rant is about the Weights & Measures regulations and the labelling of beer as sold in bars here. I am getting absolutely fed up with ordering a “Pint” of beer from a list and then being served 500ml (or in one or two cases even 400ml). There are clear laws about this (Cap.68 Weights & Measures Ordinance and its Schedules). Liquids can be sold in metric or British imperial measures. A “Pint” is clearly defined to be equivalent to 568ml. Bars that advertise Pints and then serve 500ml portions are short-selling by 12%. I propose to maintain a “name & shame” list here of bars that do this as I come across them. Please feel free to add more in the comments, and let’s get proper pints back!

I see that the Customs and Excise Department has a 24 hour contact line for Short Weights & Measures complaints (2545 6182) so that’s gone in my phone for use in places that I find this going on, and I’ll phone in any list gathered here at some point as well.

Places serving 500ml “Pints”

Spicy Fingers, Jaffe Road

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2 Responses to Food & Drink labelling in Hong Kong

  1. Beer guy says:

    What about those establishments who short server your pint, dont give you free water and allow smoking !!

  2. cosmopolitanblog says:

    food labeling…..ah ….i think on imported goods to supply restauranst and manufacturers there isnt such thing yet, my mussels are all labeled in dutch only, no ingredients listed, Cases of fruits, i dont think i have evr seen any mention yet that there is a layer of wax on some apples…..

    funny eyh

    anyway i also hate it if i order a pint and get a 400 m glass…….i always send it back and ask for a pint again……if they cant serve it then i order water.

    suit themselves

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