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Over 30% of “Siu-mei and Lo-mei” Samples Are High in Sodium Eating 1 Lunch Box of “Roasted Pork with Rice” Can Exceed Daily Intake Limit By 20%

  • 2020.01.15

“Siu-mei and Lo-mei” are popular foods among Hong Kong people. They are the frequently-ordered traditional Guangdong cuisine that loved by many working class for lunch meal and enjoyed at dinner banquet. The Consumer Council, in collaboration with the Centre for Food Safety (CFS), tested 100 samples of “Siu-mui and Lo-mei” in the market and found that 33 samples are classified as high sodium that included all the 10 “red sausage” samples. The highest sodium content was a roasted pork sample, and if eating a whole lunch box of about 170g of “roasted pork with rice”, the sodium content reached 2,400mg, exceeding the daily intake limit by nearly 20%. The test result also revealed that 5 types of “Siu-mei/Lo-mei” were “high-fat” foods, of which the average total fat content of roasted goose and roasted suckling pig was the highest. Eating a whole lunch box of about 140g “roasted goose” with rice, means reaching nearly 80% of daily intake limit on total fat.

The Council stresses that excessive intake of sodium may cause the risk of developing high blood pressure and may even lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. The Council urges the industry to improve the production process and change the ingredients in order to reduce the sodium content of “Siu-mei and Lo-mei” foods progressively. Sauce should be served separately to offer consumers a healthier choice.

The test covers 100 samples commonly found in 10 types of “Siu-mei and Lo-mei”, including “BBQ pork”, “roasted suckling pig”, “roasted pork”, “roasted goose”, “roasted duck”, “soy sauce chicken”, “lo-shui goose”, “lo-shui goose intestine”, “lo-shui goose gizzard” and “red sausage” for the test on their sodium, total fat, and saturated fat content. The sauce of “BBQ pork” and “lo-shui” were also collected and tested separately on their sodium content.

In terms of sodium content, it was found that “red sausage” contained the highest average sodium content, with 1,000mg per 100g (about 7 to 8 pieces). “Roasted goose” contained the lowest average sodium content, with 240mg per 100g (about 4 to 5 pieces). 33 samples exceeded the reference level of sodium in “high-sodium” foods (more than 600mg of sodium per 100g of food), including all the 10 samples of “red sausage”, 7 “roasted pork”, 6 “BBQ pork”, 5 “lo-shui goose gizzard”, 3 “roasted suckling pig” and 2 “lo-shui goose intestine”, of which 1 “roasted pork” sample contained the highest level of sodium, reaching 1,400mg per 100g. According to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), the average daily sodium intake of an adult should be less than 2,000mg. Calculated based on the sample with the highest sodium content, eating a lunch box of about 170g of “roasted pork” with rice, the sodium content contained in the roasted pork already reached 2,400mg, it further raised to 3,000mg when “BBQ pork sauce” was added, resulting in the daily intake limit exceeded by around 50%.

The test as well revealed there were 1,600mg of sodium per 100g in “BBQ pork sauce” and 2,200mg of sodium in “lo-shui sauce”. The test simulated with adding “BBQ pork sauce” and “lo-shui sauce” before eating “BBQ pork” and “lo-shui goose” respectively, and that led to the sodium content of “BBQ pork” increased by 15% while that of “lo-shui goose” increased significantly by nearly 40%. Based on this calculation, 1 more “BBQ pork” and 2 more “lo-shui goose” samples would be classified as “high-sodium” foods after adding the sauce. Consumers are alerted to the high sodium content of “BBQ pork sauce” and “lo-shui sauce”, adding sauce in rice would further increase the sodium intake.

Only 2 samples can be classified as “low-sodium” foods (with not more than 120mg of sodium per 100g of food) in the test, namely 1 “lo-shui goose gizzard” sample containing 110mg of sodium per 100g, and 1 “roasted goose” sample containing 120mg of sodium per 100g. Nevertheless, the sodium content difference between “lo-shui goose gizzard” and “roasted goose” is the largest among various “Siu-mei and Lo-mei” samples. The sodium content of 10 “lo-shui goose gizzard” samples, ranged from 110mg to 1,100mg per 100g, with a difference of 9 times; likewise the sodium content of 10 “roasted goose” samples, ranged from 120mg to 480mg per 100g, with a difference of 3 times, reflecting substantial room for the industry to reduce the sodium content in “Siu-mei and Lo-mei” foods.

As for the fat content, the 10 types of various “Siu-mei and Lo-mei” were mixed and tested. It was found that the average total fat content of 5 types of samples including “roasted goose”, “roasted suckling pig”, “lo-shui goose”, “BBQ pork” and “roasted duck” exceeded the level of 20g per 100g, which is the reference level for “high fat” food that CFS advises consumers. Among them, the “roasted goose” and “roasted suckling pig” samples had the highest average total fat, with 37g and 36g per 100g respectively. In other words, more than one third of the edible portion of these 2 types of samples is fat. The WHO recommends that an adult who consumes 2,000kcal of energy a day should consume less than 66.6g of total fat per day. That means if based on a “roasted goose” sample with the highest total fat content, eating a whole lunch box of about 140g “roasted goose” with rice, the total fat intake of “roasted goose” alone has already reached nearly 80% of the daily intake limit.

The saturated fat found in “roasted suckling pig” and “roasted goose” were also the highest among all types of “Siu-mei and Lo-mei”, with 12g and 11g per 100g respectively. Consumers should be mindful in reducing intake of saturated fat as it will increase the content of bad cholesterol in the blood and the risk of coronary heart disease.

“Siu-mei and Lo-mei” are processed food and most of which are made according to the recipe and experience of the chef. The test results showed that there is room for improvement in the industry on ingredients selection, seasoning recipe and production process, etc. Consumers should pay heed to the following when choosing and consuming “Siu-mei and Lo-mei”:

  • Attentive to the consuming food portion, eating light is suggested;
  • Request for serving the sauce on side, and add only when necessary; 
  • Remove obvious fat from food, such as chicken skin, in order to reduce fat intake;
  • Maintain a balanced and diversified diet, be cautious in food selection and sodium content of “Siu-mei and Lo-mei”.

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