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CFS finds excessive pesticide residues in three vegetable samples

     A spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (October 14) said the CFS is taking follow-up action after pesticide residues at levels exceeding the legal limits were found in three vegetable samples (including Chinese white cabbage, Chinese lettuce and water spinach). 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 Regulation), the maximum residue limits for Chlorpyrifos, Methomyl and Dimethoate for respective vegetables are 0.1 parts per million (ppm), 0.2 ppm and 1 ppm respectively.

     The spokesman said, "The CFS collected the samples under its regular Food Surveillance Programme. The test results showed that the Chinese white cabbage contained Chlorpyrifos at a level of 0.16 ppm, i.e. 1.6 times the legal limit; the Chinese lettuce sample was found to contain Methomyl at a level of 0.36 ppm, i.e. 1.8 times the legal limit; and the water spinach was found to contain Dimethoate at a level of 2.804 ppm, i.e. about 2.8 times the legal limit. According to the preliminary information provided by the importers concerned, the Chinese white cabbage and Chinese lettuce concerned were from the Mainland. The CFS is liaising with the Mainland authority to follow up on the incident. Meanwhile, the CFS is still investigating the sources of the water spinach concerned."

     He added, "Based on the level of pesticide residues detected in the water spinach sample, it is unlikely that the sample would pose any adverse health effect to consumers upon occasional consumption. Nevertheless, an adverse impact on the nervous system cannot be ruled out upon long-term consumption. Based on the levels of pesticide residues detected in the other two vegetable samples, adverse health effects will not be caused under normal consumption."

     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 5 000 food samples 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 inform the traders concerned of the above-mentioned results, and will continue to safeguard food safety and public health by taking different samples of vegetables for testing under its regular Food Surveillance Programme.

Ends/Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Issued at HKT 21:35


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