CFS announces food safety report for May

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) today (June 29) released the findings of its food safety report for last month. Of the 8 600 food samples tested, two samples were found to be unsatisfactory and the overall satisfactory rate was 99.98 per cent. The unsatisfactory samples, a dried shrimp and a skimmed milk, failed to pass chemical and microbiological tests respectively. The test result for the skimmed milk sample was announced earlier.

     A CFS spokesman said about 2 400 food samples had been taken for chemical tests. Some 1 600 samples were collected for microbiological tests and the remaining 4 600 (including about 4 300 samples taken from food imported from Japan) for testing of radiation levels.

     The microbiological tests covered pathogens and hygienic indicators while the chemical tests aimed at detecting pesticides, preservatives, metallic contamination, colouring matter, veterinary drug residues, plasticisers and others.

     The samples included vegetables and fruits and their products; meat and poultry and their products; aquatic and related products; milk, milk products and frozen confections; and cereals, grains and their products.

Vegetables, fruits and their products

     The CFS took about 1 300 samples of fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, preserved vegetables and pickled fruits, dried vegetables and ready-to-eat vegetables for analyses. All results were satisfactory.

Meat, poultry and their products

     All of the 700 samples, including fresh, chilled and frozen pork, beef and poultry, ready-to-eat dishes of meat and poultry served at food establishments, and meat-and poultry-made products, such as Chinese preserved meat, sausages and ham, taken by the CFS passed the tests.

Aquatic and related products

     The CFS took some 1 100 samples of fish, shellfish, shrimp, prawn, crab and squid and their products for analyses. A sample of dried shrimp was found to contain a preservative sulphur dioxide at a level of 2 100 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the legal limit of 30 ppm.

     "Sulphur dioxide is of low toxicity and will not pose adverse health effects to consumers upon normal consumption. However, for individuals who are allergic to it, symptoms of breathing difficulty, headache or nausea may develop. As sulphur dioxide is water soluble, most of it can be removed through washing and cooking," the spokesman said.

     The remaining samples for other tests (e.g. pathogens, metallic contamination, biotoxins and veterinary drug residues) were satisfactory.

Milk, milk products and frozen confections

     About 1 100 samples of ice-cream, cheese, milk and milk products were collected for tests. Other than the Australian skimmed milk sample found to have a total bacterial count exceeding the legal limit announced earlier, all other samples were found to be satisfactory.

     The importer has voluntarily suspended all their relevant milk products as a prudent measure to facilitate investigation by CFS and Australian authority.

Cereals, grains and their products

     The CFS took about 600 samples of rice, noodles, flour, bread and breakfast cereals for analyses. All samples passed the tests.

Other food commodities

     The CFS took about 3 800 food samples consisting of mixed dishes, dim sum, beverages, sushi, sashimi, sugar, sweets, condiments, sauces, snacks, eggs and egg products for tests. All samples passed the tests.


     The CFS has taken follow-up actions on the unsatisfactory samples including tracing the source of the food items in question, asking the vendors concerned to stop sale and dispose of the affected food, taking follow-up samples and issuing warning letters. Prosecution will be taken if there is sufficient evidence.

     The spokesman appealed to the trade to comply with the legal requirements and follow Good Manufacturing Practice. They should use permitted food additives only in an appropriate manner.

     In order to ensure that there are established quality and safety control plans such as "Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point" for milk and dairy product manufacturing, importers should obtain supplies of fresh and reconstituted milk from licensed milk factories, and import milk or milk beverage from manufacturers approved by the FEHD.

     Sale of milk or milk beverage for human consumption must comply with the Milk Regulation. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and three months' imprisonment upon conviction.

     Besides, the trade should maintain a good recording system in accordance with the Food Safety Ordinance to allow source tracing if needed.

     Consumers should patronise reliable shops when buying food and maintain a balanced diet to minimise food risk. They should store milk and dairy product strictly in accordance with the instructions on the labels. Before consumption, the expiry date of the product should be checked.

Ends/Saturday, June 29, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:00