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20,000 jobs on chopping board, claim legislators

by 5m Editor
14 March 2007, at 9:45am

HONG KONG - Legislators Tuesday accused the government of attempting to change the proposed central slaughterhouse into a processing center for all poultry products - in effect putting 20,000 people out of work.

They also said the new proposal would put an end to the fresh poultry trade, damaging Hong Kong's reputation as a gourmet center and sending lovers of good food to neighboring cities across the border.

The accusations flew after Health, Welfare and Food deputy secretary Cheuk Wing-hing told the Legislative Council's food safety and environmental hygiene panel the government had received six letters in December and January expressing interest in building the proposed poultry slaughtering and processing plant in the New Territories.

He said suggestions made to the government included allowing the plant to process chilled chicken, as well as cooked or semi-cooked poultry products.

However, panel deputy chairman Fred Li Wah-ming said that in its invitation to traders the government had not made it clear that the plant's first priority was to act as a central slaughterhouse for fresh poultry.

Catering sector representative Tommy Cheung Yu-yan said in its keenness to establish the central slaughterhouse, the government had failed to limit the extent of what could or could not be done on land provided by the government.

He said the suggestions made could result in an interruption to the supply of freshly slaughtered chickens to local restaurants as the plant might consider it more profitable to deal with processed chicken.

"Without a constant supply of freshly slaughtered chickens Hong Kong could be replaced as the Oriental `Food Paradise' by other cities nearby such as Guangzhou," Cheung said.

Wong Yung-kun, who represents the agriculture and fisheries sector, asked why was it necessary for the government to make a land grant if the plant was to be turned into a food processing business rather than a slaughterhouse.

Source: The Standard

5m Editor