CFS finds excessive pesticide residues in two vegetable samples

     A spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (September 24) said the CFS is taking follow-up action after pesticide residues at levels exceeding the legal limits were found in white string pod and green string pod samples. He reminded members of the public to prepare the vegetables suitably before consumption, including rinsing and soaking them, to reduce any pesticide residues on the surface.

     According to the Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap. 132CM), the maximum residue limits for Carbofuran and Chlorpyrifos for string beans are 0.1 parts per million (ppm) and 0.01 ppm respectively. The spokesman said, "Under its regular Food Surveillance Programme, the CFS collected a white string pod sample from a vegetable stall at Smithfield Market in Kennedy Town. The test result showed that it contained Carbofuran and Chlorpyrifos at levels of 1.4 ppm and 0.032 ppm respectively, i.e. 14 and three times the legal limit respectively. In addition, a green string pod sample taken from a vegetable stall in Yau Ma Tei was found to contain Carbofuran at a level of 4.4 ppm, i.e. 44 times the legal limit. The sources of the vegetables concerned have yet to be identified."

     The spokesman added, "Based on the levels of pesticide residues detected in the white string pod sample, adverse health effects will not be caused under normal consumption. However, adverse health impacts on high consumers cannot be ruled out. Adverse health effects cannot be ruled out also for the level of pesticide residues in the green string pod sample even upon normal consumption. Intake of excessive Carbofuran may cause acute adverse health effects. Symptoms would include vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating, diarrhoea, blurred vision, breathing difficulties and elevated blood pressure."

     The CFS has informed the trade concerned of the above-mentioned results, will continue to monitor the situation and will take follow-up samples from the stalls concerned for testing if the same products are found available for sale.

     The spokesman said, "To minimise the health risk posed by consuming vegetables contaminated by pesticide residues, the public may rinse vegetables several times under running water before soaking them in water for one hour, or blanch the vegetables in boiling water for one minute and discard the water, or do both to further minimise the risk."

     Since the Regulation came into effect on August 1, the CFS has taken over 3 400 samples, comprising about 70 different kinds of food at import, wholesale and retail levels, for testing of pesticide residues. Any person who imports, manufactures or sells any food not in compliance with the requirements of the Regulation concerning pesticide residues commits an offence and is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for six months.

     The CFS will continue to safeguard food safety and public health by taking different samples of vegetables for testing under its regular Food Surveillance Programme.

Ends/Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Issued at HKT 15:01