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Trade warned against selling batch of black cod steak containing excessive mercury

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (August 5) advised the trade to stop selling a batch of prepackaged black cod steak immediately as a sample taken was found to contain a metal contaminant, mercury, at a level exceeding the legal limit.

     Product details are as follows:

Product name: Black Cod Steak
Use-by date: June 27, 2016
Packer: Kai Bo Food Supermarket

     A CFS spokesman said, "The CFS collected a sample of the above-mentioned black cod steak from Kai Bo Food Supermarket at San Ma Tau Street in Ma Tau Kok, Kowloon, for testing under its regular Food Surveillance Programme. The test result showed that it contained mercury at a level of 1.2 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the legal limit of 0.5 ppm.

     "Mercury may affect the nervous system, particularly the developing brain. At high levels, mercury can affect foetal brain development, and affect vision, hearing, muscle co-ordination and memory in adults. Furthermore, as some international organisations such as the World Health Organization have pointed out, consuming predatory fish species is the main source of mercury intake for human beings. The report of the CFS' Total Diet Study has also pointed out that large fish or predatory fish species may contain high mercury levels (for example, tuna, alfonsino, shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy and king mackerel). Hence, groups particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of mercury, such as pregnant women, women planning pregnancy and young children, should opt for fish that are smaller in size for consumption and avoid consumption of the above-mentioned types of fish which may contain high mercury levels to minimise the health risk posed to the foetus, infants and young children by excessive exposure to metal contaminants in food."

     The CFS has taken appropriate actions, including informing the vendor concerned of the irregularity and will consider taking prosecution action. The vendor has stopped sale of all batches of the product. The CFS will alert the trade to the incident and trace the source and distribution of the affected product.

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

     "People are advised to maintain a balanced and varied diet. To avoid health risks posed by excessive intake of metallic contaminants, pregnant women, women planning pregnancy and young children should avoid eating large or predatory fish," the spokesman said.

      The CFS will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate follow-up actions.

Ends/Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:16


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