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Sulphur dioxide found by CFS in fresh beef sample

     A spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (August 19) said that a sample of fresh beef was found to contain sulphur dioxide, a preservative which is not permitted to be used in fresh meat, and it would continue to follow up on the case.

     "Subsequent to detecting a fresh beef sample taken from a fresh provision shop in Fanling with sulphur dioxide, the CFS followed up on the case and found another fresh beef sample containing the preservative at a level of 32 parts per million," the spokesman said.

     According to the Preservatives in Food Regulation (subsidiary legislation of Cap 132), it is an offence to add sulphur dioxide to fresh or chilled meat. The maximum penalty is a $50,000 fine and six months' imprisonment.

     The CFS has informed the shop operator concerned of the above-mentioned irregularity. Follow-up samples will be taken from the vendor for testing and prosecution will be instituted, the spokesman said.

     Sulphur dioxide is a commonly used preservative in a variety of foods including dried fruits, pickled vegetables and meat products such as sausages and grilled burgers, but under the Preservatives in Food Regulation, it is not permitted in fresh or chilled meat. Nonetheless, individual meat traders have been found illegally using sulphur dioxide to make meat look fresher. This preservative is of low toxicity. As it is water soluble, most of it can be removed through washing and cooking. However, susceptible individuals who are allergic to this preservative may experience breathing difficulties, headache and nausea.

     The spokesman reminded the food trade to comply with the law and not to sell fresh or chilled meat adulterated with sulphur dioxide. Members of the public should purchase meat from reliable market stalls or fresh provision shops. They should avoid buying or consuming meat which is unnaturally red and maintain a balanced diet to avoid malnutrition or excessive exposure to chemicals from a small range of food items.

     The CFS will continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action.

Ends/Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Issued at HKT 18:16


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