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Results of laboratory tests on Mainland food released

  • 2004.06.19

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) today (June 19) released results of laboratory tests of a special survey on food items imported from the Mainland.

A total of 133 food items were collected last month from various outlets for testing of preservatives, additives and contaminants that might be present.

Revealing the results at a press conference, the Assistant Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene, Dr Thomas Chung, said, "Among the food samples, seven items were found to contain chemicals exceeding the legal limits stipulated in the food law of Hong Kong."

Other than a peanut sample which was earlier found to have excessive levels of aflatoxins, three samples of sauce were found to contain benzoic acid with levels of 530 ppm, 590 ppm and 750 ppm. A sample of preserved food contained benzoic acid of 1,700 ppm while a sample of another type of preserved food contained chromium of 1.9 ppm. A sample of instant food was found to contain sorbic acid of 660 ppm.

"Except for the aflatoxins, all the exceedance levels of chemicals detected in the food samples are unlikely to cause any adverse health effects.

"Benzoic acid and sorbic acid are common preservatives and widely used in food items including beverages, preserved fruits and sauces. Under the Hong Kong food law, they are allowed to be used in some food items to a level up to 1,000 ppm. They are of very low toxicity and the levels detected are unlikely to cause adverse effects.

"As for chromium, it is a naturally occurring element found in the environment. Chronic exposure to excessive chromium may affect the kidney and liver. But the exceedance level detected is unlikely to cause any acute toxicity," Dr Chung explained.

The retailers have been asked to stop selling the products concerned. To ensure food safety, FEHD has stepped up random inspections of similar food products available for sale in the territory. 

"We have also informed the Mainland authorities about the findings of the seven products and checked with them whether any of these products are exported to Hong Kong," he said.

Dr Chung urged food traders to ensure that all food for sale should comply with the food laws in Hong Kong and should be fit for human consumption.

Moreover, vendors should always obtain their food from reliable suppliers.

While pledging to keep up the efforts in food surveillance, Dr Chung said the department would continue to attach great importance to enhancing public awareness of food safety. 

Reprinted from : HKSAR Government web page :