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CFS finds suspected falsified health certificates
     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) said today (September 21) that several suspected falsified health certificates for imported frozen meat were found when the CFS followed up on a complaint earlier. The products concerned included chicken feet and livestock offal products from Brazil which should be for pet consumption only. The CFS has referred the case to the Brazilian authorities and the Hong Kong Police for investigation.

     A spokesman for the CFS said, "The CFS received a complaint lodged by a food importer about a suspicious health certificate accompanying a consignment of frozen chicken feet from Brazil which was imported earlier this year. The importer therefore informed the Consulate General of Brazil in Hong Kong and the CFS for follow-up. The CFS then liaised with the Brazilian authorities for investigation. The Brazilian authorities have recently confirmed that the health certificate concerned was falsified and the related consignment of frozen chicken feet was pet food. The CFS has reported the case to the Hong Kong Police.

     "In its follow-up investigation, the CFS found that in the past year (from last October till now), a total of 10 consignments of products (including the consignment of product involved in the complaint) were pet food and had been exported from Brazil to Hong Kong by the exporter listed on the health certificate concerned. The product concerned included eight consignments of frozen chicken feet, a consignment of cattle offal products and a consignment of pig offal products and pig feet. All the health certificates of the 10 consignments were issued on or before March 21, 2017 (the day the CFS announced the import ban of Brazilian frozen and chilled meat and poultry into Hong Kong). Among them, six consignments of frozen chicken feet and two consignments of livestock offal products were re-exported to the Mainland and Vietnam, and one consignment of frozen chicken feet is being kept in the container terminal and has not entered the market. For the remaining one consignment of about 27 tonnes of frozen chicken feet, according to the information provided by the importer concerned, it had been sold to a buyer. The CFS has already contacted major local retailers and so far the concerned consignment of product has not been found on sale in the local market. The CFS is further investigating whether this consignment of product has been re-exported to other places outside Hong Kong."

     The spokesman said that in response to the incident, the CFS has immediately stepped up its verification checks of all health certificates issued for frozen meat and poultry exported from Brazil to Hong Kong. It has requested the Brazilian authorities to confirm the authenticity of the health certificates of the other nine consignments of Brazilian products exported to Hong Kong, and to provide their investigation results as soon as possible. For the sake of prudence, the CFS has, with immediate effect, suspended the import of products to Hong Kong by the exporter, LAMAJO COMERCIAL LTDA, and two Brazilian production plants, SIF2421 and SIF2498, as listed in those health certificates.

     The Centre has earlier enhanced its surveillance on meat and poultry from Brazil. Since March 21 this year, a total of 562 samples (including frozen chicken feet and livestock offals) were taken at the import and retail level for testing of meat deterioration and other food safety indicators. The test results showed that all samples were satisfactory. Surveillance on the product concerned imported from Brazil will continue to be enhanced.

     After the incident concerning the quality of the meat exported from Brazil in March this year, the Centre started its discussion with the Brazilian authorities for further improvement of the arrangements for import of Brazilian frozen meat and poultry, including considering restricting the list and the number of Brazilian plants allowed to export products to Hong Kong to step up the import control of Brazilian products. In the light of this incident, the Centre will further review the proposed import control arrangement with a view to further safeguarding food safety.

     The spokesman said that members of the public are advised to properly wash and thoroughly cook the frozen meat and offal before consumption to minimise food safety risks.
     The Centre has reported the case involving several suspected falsified health certificates of imported frozen meat to the Hong Kong Police. It will maintain liaison with the Hong Kong Police and the Brazilian authorities, continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate actions.  Investigation is on-going.
Ends/Thursday, September 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:00
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