Retailing, Franchising, and Consumerism Business Intelligence in China

Hong Kong Releases Food Safety Report

Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety has released its fourth Food Safety Report for 2007, which included food surveillance results for July and August.

Announcing the results at a press conference, Assistant Director (Food Surveillance and Control) of the CFS, Dr Constance Chan, said some 12,800 food samples were tested in July and August. Among them, some 4,400 samples were taken for microbiological tests and about 8,200 for chemical tests.

"The overall satisfactory rate is 99.4%, with 79 samples found unsatisfactory. Most of the exceedances or breaches were not serious and would not pose immediate health risks," she said.

While microbiological tests cover pathogenic bacteria and viruses, chemical tests are conducted to detect sweeteners, preservatives, heavy metals, coloring matters, veterinary drug residues and pesticides. Food samples tested included vegetables, fruits and their products; meat, poultry and their products; aquatic products; milk, milk products and frozen confections; and cereals, grains and their products.

About 4,900 vegetable, fruit and their product samples were taken for microbiological and chemical tests. There were 52 unsatisfactory samples. On pesticides, tests were conducted for four main types covering more than 100 pesticides (such as DDT, methamidophos and hexachlorocyclohexane). Six samples (including Chinese white cabbage, celery, Chinese lettuce, lettuce and green pepper) were found to contain trace amounts of methamidophos (from 1.9ppm to 4ppm).

For heavy metals, tests included cadmium, arsenic, and lead. Five samples (including watercress, mushroom, mixed baby greens and Romaine hearts) were found to contain cadmium (from 0.19ppm to 0.63ppm), exceeding the permitted level. For coloring matters, Brilliant Blue FCF, which is not permitted for fresh vegetables, was detected in a sample of green peas.

The current round of results for vegetables, fruits and products also included a targeted food surveillance on the use of preservatives, including sulphur dioxide, benzoic acid and sorbic acid. Twenty-five samples of preserved vegetables (including mustard greens, rakkyo, ginger, chillies and choi sum) were found to contain sulphur dioxide (from 200ppm to 710ppm) and/or benzoic acid (from 320ppm to 1,600ppm). Fifteen samples of preserved fruits (including dried raisins, apricots, plums, blueberries, kumquat and olives) were found to contain sulphur dioxide (from 560ppm to 4,200ppm), benzoic acid (760ppm), or sorbic acid (from 160ppm to 2,300ppm). All the preservatives detected had exceeded the legal limits.

The CFS collected some 1,700 samples of meat, poultry and their products for microbiological and chemical tests. All samples tested for veterinary drug residues, colouring matters and preservatives were satisfactory. A plain chicken sample was found to contain pathogen Staphylococcus aureus at a level of 480,000 per gramme.

About 700 aquatic product samples including freshwater fish, seawater fish and shellfish were analyzed for micro-organisms, chemicals and toxins. Apart from the unsatisfactory spicy cuttlefish sample announced earlier, there were seven unsatisfactory results.

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