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DH statement on pesticides residues in three Chinese herbs

    In response to media enquiries concerning a media report on pesticide residues detected in three Chinese herbs namely Radix Ginseng, Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae, and Radix notoginseng, a spokesman for the Department of Health (DH) today (August 25) made the following statement:

     "The figures quoted in a newspaper today were from the raw data collected two years ago for a research project conducted by the Hong Kong Baptist University for DH for developing reference standards for commonly used Chinese herbs in Hong Kong (The Hong Kong Chinese Materia Medica Standards) as there was previously no internationally recognised standards for Chinese herbs.

     The standards include, among other things, pesticide residues level.  The results of Phase I covering nine herbs were published in July, 2005, for reference by the Chinese medicine sector. Phase 1 will be put into trial use for 12 months starting September, 2005.

     The regulation of Chinese medicine is provided in the Chinese Medicine Ordinance (Cap. 549).  Chinese medicine traders (including Chinese herbal medicine retailers/wholesalers and proprietary Chinese medicine wholesaler and manufacturer) are required to obtain a licence.

     The proprietary Chinese medicine registration system was introduced on December 19, 2003. More than 16,000 applications have been received and are being processed. All applicants for proprietory Chinese medicine registration are required to submit reports on pesticides residues level.

     A surveillance system on Chinese herbal medicine has been put in place.  About 350 samples of Chinese herbal medicines in the market are surveyed every year.  There were no samples of Chinese herbs for local sale which failed the pesticides limit in the past two years.

     Apart from local control through registration of proprietary Chinese medicine and surveillance on Chinese herbal medicine, DH has networked with neighbouring countries, including the Mainland, Australia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Vietnam, on the promotion of standardisation and exchange of information on adverse events related to the use of herbal medicines.

     The DH will continue to monitor the situation and step up the surveillance.

     Members of the public should:

* Choose suitable pots
* Wash and clean the pot thoroughly before use
* Wash the Chinese herbal medicine before cooking

     People are advised to consult Chinese medicine practitioners before taking Chinese medicines.

Ends/Thursday, August 25, 2005
Issued at HKT 17:26


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