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Bamboo fungus sample detected with preservative exceeding legal limit
     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (September 28) that a sample of prepackaged bamboo fungus was found to contain sulphur dioxide, a preservative, at a level exceeding the legal limit. Follow-up is in progress.

     "Subsequent to announcing that a prepackaged bamboo fungus sample taken from a retail outlet in Tai Po was found to contain sulphur dioxide at a level exceeding the legal limit, the CFS detected a similar irregularity in another bamboo fungus sample of the same kind but of a different batch from the same retail outlet during the follow-up investigation. The test result showed that the sample contained sulphur dioxide at a level of 3 600 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the legal limit of 500ppm," the CFS spokesman said.

     Details of the product are as follows:

Product name: Wild bamboo fungus
Packer: Hop Cheong Sea-Products Co Ltd
Best-before date: October 28, 2017
Net weight: 75.5 grams/two taels per pack

     The CFS has informed the vendor concerned of the irregularity and the vendor has stopped sale of all batches of the product. Should there be sufficient evidence, prosecution will be instituted. The CFS is also tracing the source and distribution of the affected product and will alert the trade to the incident. The trade should stop using or selling the affected batch of the product immediately should they still possess it.

     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 levels of sulphur dioxide detected in the unsatisfactory samples, adverse health effects will not be caused under usual 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 chemicals as a result of frequent consumption of a small range of food items.

     The CFS will continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action.
Ends/Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:25
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