CUHK Sets Up the First Food Composition Database in Hong Kong
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has received a funding of nearly HK$18 million from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust to set up the first ever Food Composition Database (the Database) in Hong Kong [Chief Executive’s Community Project List 2006 (S/N Ref 2006/CP01)]. With strong support from the Centre for Food Safety, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), the project was put into operation starting from July this year. Apart from analyzing over 1,000 food ingredients commonly used in the local territory in the next 3 years, the Database will provide detailed food composition reference data and technical support for the local food industry (especially SMEs) via its website, with a view to assisting the industry to comply with the proposed Labelling Scheme on Nutrition Information. The Database will help the industry to reduce the cost for creating nutrition labels for its food products in the long term.
A seminar cum launching ceremony of the Food Composition Database was held today on the CUHK campus. Ms. Florine Tang, Manager, Charities of The Hong Kong Jockey Club; Dr. Ho Yuk Yin, Consultant of Centre for Food Safety, FEHD; Prof. Kenneth Young, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of CUHK; Prof. Kwan Hoi Shan, Project Director of the Database as well as Prof. Fung Kwok Pui and Prof. Chan Yan Keung, Associate Project Directors of the Database, officiated at the ceremony.
Ms. Florine Tang, Manager, Charities of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, said at today's ceremony that The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust was glad to fund CUHK in setting up the first ever Food Composition Database targeting at food ingredients used by food manufacturers in Hong Kong. The Database will assist the local food industry to create its own nutrition labels, and the public could also choose suitable and healthy foods more easily. “At present, there is a lack of food composition data on the local food ingredients in the food composition tables throughout the world. The local food industry, especially SMEs would thus find it difficult to create nutrition labels for their food products. Equipped with an experienced research team and advanced technologies, CUHK is well placed to facilitate the implementation of the Labelling Scheme on Nutrition Information in Hong Kong. I hope the industry and the public can make good use of the Database to promote healthy lifestyle and balanced diet,” said Ms. Tang.
Dr. Ho Yuk Yin, Consultant of Centre for Food Safety of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said that owing to the increasing public awareness of the nutritional value of food consumed and produced in Hong Kong, nutrition label has become an important tool for consumers to choose their food. Therefore, the Food and Health Bureau has proposed to introduce the Labelling Scheme on Nutrition Information for all pre-packaged food in Hong Kong. The substantial amount of food composition reference data provided by the Database could be used together with other food composition tables around the world in order to help the industry to comply with the proposed scheme. As the supporting government department, FEHD will closely collaborate with the Database to assist its future development by providing the latest information of the scheme.
On behalf of CUHK, Professor Kenneth Young, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, thanked The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust for the generous funding and the government and the local food industry for their support. Prof. Young said, “CUHK is most grateful to The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the FEHD and the local food associations for financial, technical and information support. I am sure that the Database will make a major community contribution in helping the industry to comply with the proposed food labelling scheme. Such efforts will in the end lead to the prospect of better and safer food products for the public”.
A seminar on the Database was held after the launching ceremony. Prof. Kwan Hoi Shan and Prof. Wong Ka Hing, Project Director and Manager of the Database respectively, introduced the latest progress and future plans of the Database. Besides, the Database webpages, the completion of the sample submission form and online membership registration were also demonstrated. The industry was very much interested in the Database and questions were raised enthusiastically during the discussion session. The valuable opinions and suggestions collected will enable CUHK to enhance the Database to better meet the needs of the local food industry.
In the future, the Database will disseminate the latest updates of the Labelling Scheme on Nutrition Information and promote the importance of nutrition labels to the local food industry and the public, via various channels including the website, posters, brochures, school visits, workshops and forums.