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CFS completes investigations into illegal import of batch of carrots from Chiba, Japan

     A spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said today (March 7) that an importer was found contravening an order issued in 2011 under Section 78B of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) by importing a small amount of carrots from Chiba, Japan, for sale in Hong Kong. Although the carrot samples from the same consignment passed the radiological testing, the CFS will consider instituting prosecutions against the importer and retailer concerned after seeking legal advice.

     "The CFS received a complaint relating to suspected violation of the Order by selling restricted Japanese food in Hong Kong. CFS' follow-up investigation revealed that 10 boxes of carrots (10 kilograms per box) originated from Chiba, Japan, were imported to Hong Kong in January this year. Import documents did not state that the consignment was originated from the prefecture concerned. According to the information provided by the importer, majority of the carrots were either rotten and disposed of or for personal consumption. Only two boxes were sent to the Yau Ma Tei Wholesale Fruit Market for sale. One of them was sold while the remaining box was marked and sealed by the CFS. Samples were taken for testing of radiation levels and the results were satisfactory," a CFS spokesman said.

     In response to the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident in Japan in 2011, the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene issued an order under Section 78B of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) to prohibit import of vegetables and fruits, milk, milk beverages and milk powder from the five most affected prefectures of Japan, namely Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Gunma. CFS also prohibits the import of all chilled or frozen game, meat and poultry, all poultry eggs and all live, chilled or frozen aquatic products from the five prefectures to Hong Kong, unless accompanied by a certificate issued by the competent authority of Japan certifying that the radiation levels do not exceed the Guideline Levels.

     "The aforesaid Order is still in force. The food trade must strictly comply with the Order and not to import any restricted fresh produce from the five Japanese prefectures concerned. Anyone found guilty of contravening any terms of the Order is liable to a maximum fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for 12 months," the spokesman said.

     The CFS has stepped up surveillance, at the import, wholesale and retail levels, and conducted radiological testing on food products imported from Japan since March 12, 2011. More than 61 500 samples of food imported from Japan were tested last year. The test results of all samples were satisfactory.

     The CFS will continue to follow up on the case and take appropriate actions to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

Ends/Saturday, March 7, 2015
Issued at HKT 23:35


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