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CFS proactively follows up cases of excessive cadmium detected in rice

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has been following up on a study conducted by the Consumer Council in which three rice samples were detected with cadmium levels exceeding the legal limit, and requested the vendor concerned to stop selling the affected product to safeguard food safety and public health, a spokesman for the CFS said today (December 16).

     "Upon receiving notification from the Consumer Council earlier, the CFS staff have conducted checks on major retail outlets and found one of the samples available for sale in one local outlet. Tests for metallic contamination (including cadmium) were conducted on the sample collected. Surveillance results found that cadmium level in the concerned sample was 0.28 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the legal limit of 0.1 ppm," the CFS spokesman said.

     "The CFS has issued warning letters to the retailer and the distributor concerned and ordered them to suspend sale of the affected batch of the product. Appropriate law enforcement action will also be taken. During our investigation, the other two rice samples were not found for sale in local retail outlets under inspection. Investigation will continue," he added.

     Based on the level of the cadmium detected, risk assessment findings revealed that normal consumption is unlikely to pose any adverse health effect for average consumers. However, for high consumers (with a daily consumption of about three bowls of a total of 600 grams of cooked rice), long-term consumption of the same sample of cooked rice detected at 0.28 mg/kg of cadmium may affect their kidney function. A conservative approach has been adopted in the above risk assessment, under which it is assumed that all cadmium presented in the samples would be ingested by the consumers. Besides, the effect of processing, such as washing and cooking, on the reduction of cadmium content in the samples will not be taken into account. Such assumptions would likely over-estimate the actual exposure to cadmium.

     "The CFS has been conducting regular surveillance on cadmium level in rice and rice products. A risk-based approach has been adopted in its routine food surveillance programme. Food samples are taken at import, wholesale and retail levels for testings to ensure that they are in compliance with the legal requirements in Hong Kong and are fit for human consumption. From 2010 to November this year, about 170 rice samples were taken by CFS for testing of metallic contaminants (including cadmium). Surveillance results found that cadmium level in all the samples tested were in compliance with the legal requirements in Hong Kong," the spokesman said.

     The CFS advised the public to maintain a balanced and varied diet and consider complementing rice with other cereals (for example noodles, oatmeal and bread) as part of the diet so as to avoid excessive intake of particular chemicals or contaminants because of picky eating.

Ends/Monday, December 16, 2013
Issued at HKT 21:13


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