IAM to establish registration system for takeaway establishments to safeguard food safety

The takeaway market in Macao has been booming in recent years. To further improve the food safety supervision system and respond to requests for strengthened supervision in the society, the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) plans to establish a registration system for establishments of takeaway activities. Mandatory registration will be imposed on the establishments which engage in takeaway activities and are not regulated by licenses at present. The focus will be on monitoring and control of food production source and processing procedures to step up supervision of food safety. It is proposed that the new registration system requires takeaway establishments to make a registration before commencement of business, to operate in a physical store and to show the registration certificate for public information. Third-party online food ordering platforms are also required to ensure that the takeaway establishments using the platforms have completed the registration before the food is available for sale on them. This serves to further clarify the responsibilities of the sector and safeguard public consumption safety.

At present, there are about 2,100 takeaway establishments in Macao, involving food processing, preparation and sale, and some of them even sell raw and chilled seafood, sushi and other food of relatively high risks. On the premise of ensuring food safety, after full consideration of public opinions and the business environment of local small and micro enterprises as well as distinctive old shops, IAM has created a suitable and operative registration system for establishments of takeaway activities without affecting the existing license system. It is planned that there will be two registration methods in the future for the sector to submit applications, either by visiting any of the services centres of IAM in person or by electronic application.

The new registration system will facilitate comprehensive and systematic management of establishments of takeaway activities by the management authorities and the third-party online food ordering platforms, so as to raise the safety and hygiene standards of takeaway food and beverages. In addition, consumers can have a clear understanding of the information about the shops and make a suitable choice before consumption.

The proposed target group of the registration system is the establishments which involve manufacturing, processing, cooking or preparation of food and do not have a license at present, for example, snack bars, takeaway boxed meal shops, siu mei/lo mei shops, takeaway beverage shops, sushi and sashimi shops, bakeries and pastry shops, convenience stores and souvenir shops. However, temporary establishments or stalls for sale of food, stalls in public markets, as well as food establishments that are required to obtain a license or permit according to other laws and regulations, are regulated in accordance with the existing laws and regulations, and they are not applicable for the registration system.

The proposed requirements for registration include: The establishments concerned are required to submit an application for registration to IAM before commencement of business and they are only allowed to be open to the public after being granted a registration certificate. In addition, the establishments must have a physical store, and the production and operation establishments are not allowed to be located in immovable property of which the actual operation conditions obviously do not meet those for food takeaway activities. Meanwhile, the business operators are required to ensure the compliance with hygiene and safety conditions, including installation of equipment for prevention of pest and rodent, equipment for cold and hot storage of food, etc. The equipment and facilities concerned should be kept in good operation.

With the aim of further safeguarding consumers’ rights, it is proposed that after official implementation of the registration system, operators of takeaway establishments are required to put up the registration certificate at a prominent location in the shops. In case of using the internet or mobile applications as the medium of operation or communication, the relevant certificates are required to be uploaded for consumers’ perusal. Furthermore, it is proposed that the providers of third-party online food ordering platforms are regulated, requiring them to ensure that the food operators using the platforms have made the registration in accordance with the law and that the information about registration is shown on the platforms.

To allow the food industry to have a better understanding of the registration system, IAM introduces the content of the draft to the Consultative Committee on Municipal Affairs and the Conselhos Consultivos de Serviços Comunitáriosof the islands, central and northern districts. A number of briefing sessions designated for the takeaway sector are also organised to give explanations on the details of the registration system, respond to enquiries and listen to opinions. Interested parties may visit the designated webpage for “registration system for establishments of takeaway activities” of the Food Safety Information Website www.foodsafety.gov.mo to view the details of the registration system.

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