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CFS announces food safety report for May

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) today (June 30) released the findings of its food safety report for last month. The results of about 9 700 food samples tested were found to be satisfactory except for 26 unsatisfactory samples which were announced earlier. The overall satisfactory rate was 99.7 per cent.

     A CFS spokesman said about 2 300 food samples had been taken for chemical tests. Some 1 000 samples were collected for microbiological tests and the remaining 6 400 (including about 6 200 taken from food imported from Japan) were collected for testing of radiation levels.

     The microbiological tests covered pathogens and hygienic indicators, while the chemical tests aimed at detecting pesticides, preservatives, metallic contamination, colouring matters, veterinary drug residues and others.

     The samples comprised about 2 100 samples of vegetables and fruits and their products; 500 samples of meat and poultry and their products; 1 200 samples of aquatic and related products; 500 samples of milk, milk products and frozen confections; 600 samples of cereals, grains and their products; and 4 700 samples of other food commodities (including beverages, bakery products and snacks).

     The 26 unsatisfactory samples included eight vegetable and fruit samples found with pesticide residues exceeding the legal limits; four ice-cream samples detected with total bacteria counts exceeding the legal limit; three salted fish samples and one jasmine floral tea sample found with pesticide residues; one ice-cream sample and one yogurt sample found with coliform counts exceeding the legal limit; two "lucky bun" samples found to contain a non-permitted colouring matter; two prepacked frozen confection samples imported from Korea found to have permitted colouring matters undeclared; one sample of rice vermicelli in soup with egg and one sample of chicken with chili sauce found with Salmonella; one sample of rice with roasted pork and salted duck egg found with an excessive amount of coagulase-positive staphylococci organisms; and one prepacked sausage sample from Taiwan detected with a preservative, sorbic acid.

     The CFS has taken follow-up action on the unsatisfactory samples including informing the trade concerned of the test results, instructing the trade concerned to stop sale of the incriminated food items and tracing the sources of the food items in question.

     Since the Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap 132CM) came into effect on August 1 last year, as of May 31 the CFS had taken over 22 700 food samples at import, wholesale and retail levels for testing for pesticide residues and a total of 77 vegetable and fruit samples have been detected with excessive pesticide residues. The overall unsatisfactory rate is less than 0.4 per cent.

     The spokesman added that excessive pesticide residues in food may arise from the trade not observing Good Agricultural Practice, e.g. using excessive pesticides and not allowing sufficient time for pesticides to decompose before harvesting. The Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) of pesticide residues in food is not a safety indicator. It is the maximum concentration of pesticide residues to be permitted in a food commodity under the Good Agricultural Practice when applying pesticides. In this connection, consumption of food with pesticide residues higher than the MRL does not necessarily mean it could lead to any adverse health effect.

     Furthermore, Salmonella can be found in eggs and food of animal origin. There is risk of contracting salmonellosis if a person consumes undercooked food of animal origin, eggs or egg products, and food cross-contaminated with Salmonella. As for food poisoning caused by coagulase-positive staphylococci organisms, it is usually associated with foods that require considerable handling during preparation and no subsequent cooking is required before consumption. Food risk cannot be eliminated by reheating as enterotoxins produced by coagulase-positive staphylococci organisms cannot be destroyed under normal cooking temperatures. Members of the public are reminded to keep perishable foods or leftovers at or below 4 degrees Celsius or above 60 degrees C. The trade should adhere to the Good Manufacturing Practice that cooked food should be cooled from 60 degrees C to 20 degrees C as quickly as possible (within two hours), and from 20 degrees C to 4 degrees C within four hours or less.

     The spokesman reminded the food trade to ensure that food is fit for consumption and meets legal requirements. Consumers should patronise reliable shops when buying food and maintain a balanced diet to minimise food risk.

Ends/Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Issued at HKT 20:24


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