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Preserved vegetable samples detected with preservative exceeding legal limit
     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (August 17) that two prepackaged preserved vegetable samples of the same product but of different batches were found to contain a preservative, sulphur dioxide, at levels exceeding the legal limit. The trade should stop using or selling all batches of the product immediately.

     Product details are as follows:

Product name: Pickled Mustard
Place of origin: Thailand
Distributor: Kong Thai Native Foods Co
Net weight: 350 grams/12.3 ounces per pack
Best-before dates: May 22, 2018, and May 24, 2018

     "Subsequent to announcing that samples of a kind of pickled mustard collected at two retail outlets in Yau Ma Tei and Sham Shui Po were detected with excessive sulphur dioxide earlier, two samples of the same kind but of different batches separately taken from the same two retail outlets were also found to contain the preservative at levels of 760 parts per million (ppm) and 740 ppm respectively, exceeding the legal limit of 100 ppm," the spokesman said.

     The CFS has informed the vendors concerned of the irregularity and the vendors have stopped selling and removed from shelves all batches of the affected product according to the CFS' instruction. Should there be sufficient evidence, prosecution will be instituted. The CFS is also tracing the source and distribution of the affected product.

     Sulphur dioxide is a commonly used preservative in a variety of foods including dried vegetables, dried fruits, pickled vegetables and meat products. This preservative is of low toxicity. As it is water soluble, most of it can be removed through washing and cooking. Based on the level of sulphur dioxide detected in the unsatisfactory samples, adverse health effects will not be caused under normal consumption. However, for individuals who are allergic to this preservative, there may be symptoms of shortness of breath, headache and nausea. The public are advised to seek medical treatment if they feel unwell after eating the food.

     The spokesman reminded the food trade that the use of preservatives in food must comply with the Preservatives in Food Regulation (Cap 132BD). Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and six months' imprisonment upon conviction. Members of the public should buy food from reliable suppliers, and maintain a balanced diet so as to avoid excessive intake of certain harmful substances as a result of frequent consumption of a small range of food items.

     The CFS will alert the trade, continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action. Investigation is ongoing.
Ends/Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:30
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