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Fresh beef sample found to contain sulphur dioxide
     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (August 16) that a sample of fresh beef was found to contain sulphur dioxide, a preservative which is not permitted to be used in fresh meat. The CFS will continue to follow up on the case.

     "Subsequent to a fresh beef sample taken from a market stall in Sai Wan Ho detected with sulphur dioxide earlier, the CFS took a follow-up fresh beef sample at the stall for investigation. The sample was found to contain the preservative at a level of 2,100 parts per million," a spokesman for the CFS 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 stall operator concerned of the above-mentioned irregularity. Prosecution will be instituted should there be sufficient evidence.

     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 case and take appropriate action, including taking follow-up samples from the stall for testing.
Ends/Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Issued at HKT 19:12
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