Hong Ning Dairy, known as Hong Kong’s only licensed organic milk farm, has lost its license and is selling milk products made from formula as fresh milk, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.
Once popular among local families as a place to visit during holidays, the dairy, founded 53 years ago, has not received visitors for the past year, citing ongoing renovations.
The farm, in Fanling, no longer has a dairy license, and there are no milk cows there, the newspaper’s reporters discovered.
However, the farm is still churning out about 4,000 bottles of “fresh milk” daily, the report said.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department confirmed that Hong Ning has not had a license to operate a cattle farm since 2008.
The farm only has a dairy processing license issued by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, which means it can process dairy beverages for sale.
The reporters said they saw workers at the farm moving huge bags of milk formula from a dairy supplier in New Zealand into the farm’s processing plant.
Hong Ning’s agents and customer service hotline staff insisted, however, that the milk products it sells are freshly made from milk obtained from cattle each day, the report said.
Fong Lai-ying of the department of applied science at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education was quoted as saying the food ingredient information on Hong Ning’s milk bottles shows the product is made from water, milk solids, fat, salt, vitamin A and vitamin D, which essentially means it is made from formula powder instead of milk directly from cows.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said even if the food ingredient information is accurate, Hong Ning could still have violated the Trade Descriptions (Unfair Trade Practices) Ordinance through misleading omissions, the report said.
Luk said the Customs and Excise Department could gather evidence and proceed to prosecution if necessary.
Offenders against the ordinance could face a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to HK$500,000.
Meanwhile, the owner, surnamed Chiu, of coffee shop Kelly & Moss, one of the 50 retail outlets for Hong Ning’s dairy products, said he was shocked by the news and felt cheated.
“We are terribly disappointed by Hong Ning, especially when it is a local brand with a long history,” Chiu was quoted as saying.
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