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CFS finds excessive pesticide residues in water spinach and choi sum samples

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (December 11) found a water spinach sample and a choi sum sample with pesticide residues at levels exceeding the legal limit. The CFS is following up on the cases and reminding members of the public to prepare vegetables suitably before consumption, including rinsing and soaking them, to reduce the levels of pesticide residues.

     A CFS spokesman said, "The CFS collected the water spinach sample and the choi sum sample for testing at retail and import levels respectively under its regular Food Surveillance Programme. Test results showed that the water spinach sample and the choi sum sample contained chlorpyrifos at levels of 0.5 parts per million (ppm) and 0.18 ppm respectively, i.e. five times and 1.8 times the maximum residue limit (0.1 ppm) respectively.

     "Based on the levels of pesticide residues detected in the two samples, adverse health effects will not be caused by normal consumption."

     To reduce the pesticide residues of vegetables, the spokesman reminded members of the public to rinse vegetables several times under running water, then soak them in water for one hour, or blanch them in boiling water for one minute and discard the water. To further reduce the intake of pesticide residues, the outer leaves or peel of the vegetables can also be removed as appropriate.

     Since the Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap. 132CM) came into effect on August 1, the CFS has taken over 9 500 food samples at import, wholesale and retail levels for testing for pesticide residues and a total of 36 vegetable samples (including the unsatisfactory samples announced today) have been detected as having excessive pesticide residues. The overall unsatisfactory rate is less than 0.4 per cent. 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 upon conviction.

     The CFS will follow up on the unsatisfactory results, including tracing the sources and distribution of the food in question and taking samples for testing so as to safeguard public health. Investigation is ongoing.

Ends/Thursday, December 11, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:21


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