Raw oyster sample found to contain cadmium over legal limit

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) announced today (December 22) that a sample of raw oyster taken at a food factory was found to be contaminated with a heavy metal, cadmium. The CFS has ordered the food factory concerned to stop selling the affected product.

     A CFS spokesman said, "The sample of raw oyster was taken from a licensed food factory named Ocean Party in Kailey Industrial Centre, 12 Fung Yip Street, Chai Wan, for testing under the CFS' regular Food Surveillance Programme. Test result showed that a metal contaminant, cadmium, was found at a level of 3.2 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the legal limit of 2 ppm."

     According to the Food Adulteration (Metallic Contamination) Regulations (Cap 132V), any person who sells food with metallic contamination above the legal limit of the food will be prosecuted and is liable upon conviction to a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for 6 months.

     "Occasional consumption of oysters with cadmium at the detected level will not cause adverse health effects to consumers. However, adverse impact on the kidneys and bones cannot be ruled out over long term consumption," the spokesman said.  

     The CFS has informed the person-in-charge of the food factory of the test result and instructed him to stop sale of the affected oysters.

     The spokesman said, "The CFS will alert the trade of the incident. The relevant overseas regulatory authorities will also be notified upon confirmation of the place of origin of the affected oysters. The CFS will continue to closely monitor the situation and take appropriate follow-up action, including suspending import of and stepping up surveillance on raw oysters from the same harvest area at import and retail levels."

     He reminded the public that due to their specific growing nature, oysters can be easily contaminated by pathogens and chemical contaminants, and pose potential risks. Members of the public are advised to buy raw oysters from reliable licensed/permitted food premises with an endorsement from the FEHD to sell raw oysters. They should check with the shop whether the oysters are accompanied by health certificates issued by competent authorities from their places of origin stating that the oysters are suitable for consumption in the uncooked state, before placing orders; and keep raw oysters at four degrees Celsius or below during transportation and storage. Do not eat oysters raw if they are intended for consumption only after cooking. Susceptible groups, such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems or liver diseases, should avoid eating raw oysters.

Ends/Monday, December 22, 2014
Issued at HKT 20:30