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CFS finds excessive preservative in dried apricot sample

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (December 19) announced that a sample of loose-pack dried apricot was found to contain sulphur dioxide, a preservative, at a level exceeding the legal limit. The CFS will continue to follow up on the case.

     "The CFS collected the loose-pack dried apricot sample from a supermarket in Tai Po under its regular Food Surveillance Programme. The test result showed that the sample contained sulphur dioxide at a level of 3 100 parts per million, exceeding the legal limit of 2 000 ppm," a CFS spokesman said.

     Sulphur dioxide is a commonly used preservative in a variety of foods including dried fruits, pickled vegetables and meat products.

     "Occasional consumption of the abovementioned dried apricot with sulphur dioxide is unlikely to pose any adverse health effect to consumers. However, long-term consumption may affect the digestive system. For individuals who are allergic to this preservative, there may be symptoms of breathing difficulty, headache and nausea," the spokesman said.

     The CFS will inform the vendor concerned of the above-mentioned result, instruct the vendor to stop the sale of the food concerned as well as trace the source and distribution of the food item in question. A follow-up sample will be taken from the vendor for testing if the same kind of food is found available for sale to ensure compliance with relevant statutory provisions. Investigation is still ongoing.

     The spokesman reminded the food trade that the use of preservatives in food must comply with the Preservatives in Food Regulation. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and six months' imprisonment upon conviction. Members of the public should buy food from reliable suppliers, and to maintain a balanced diet so as to avoid excessive intake of certain harmful substances as a result of frequent consumption of a small range of food items.

Ends/Friday, December 19, 2014
Issued at HKT 20:23


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