Pesticide residue exceeds legal limit in prepackaged cucumber sample

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (July 5) announced that a prepackaged cucumber sample was found to have pesticide residue at a level exceeding the legal limit. The CFS is following up on the case.

     Details of the product are as follows:

Product: British Cucumber
Place of origin: United Kingdom
Distributor: Marks and Spencer (Asia Pacific) Limited
Best-before date: June 17, 2018

     A CFS spokesman said, "The CFS collected the cucumber sample from a supermarket in Tsing Yi for testing under its routine Food Surveillance Programme. The test result showed that the sample contained pymetrozine at a level of 0.5 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the maximum residue limit (MRL) of 0.1ppm.

     "The CFS has informed the vendor concerned of the irregularity and is tracing the source of the affected product.

     "Based on the level of pesticide residue detected in the sample, adverse health effects would not be caused under usual consumption."

     Generally speaking, to reduce pesticide residues in vegetables, members of the public can rinse vegetables thoroughly under clean running water, and scrub produce with hard surfaces with a clean brush to remove dirt and substances including pesticides and contaminants from the surface and the crevices, when appropriate.

     Any person who imports, manufactures or sells any food not in compliance with the requirements of the Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap 132CM) concerning pesticide residues commits an offence and is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for six months upon conviction.

     Since the regulation came into effect on August 1, 2014, the CFS has taken over 147 800 samples at import, wholesale and retail levels for testing for pesticide residues. Together with the unsatisfactory sample announced today, a total of 226 food samples (including 218 vegetable and fruit samples) have been detected as having excessive pesticide residues. The overall unsatisfactory rate is less than 0.2 per cent.

     The spokesman added that excessive pesticide residues in food may arise from the trade not observing Good Agricultural Practice, e.g. using excessive pesticides and/or not allowing sufficient time for pesticides to decompose before harvesting. The MRLs of pesticide residues in food set in the Regulation are not safety indicators. They are the maximum concentrations of pesticide residues to be permitted in a food commodity under Good Agricultural Practice when applying pesticides. In this connection, consumption of food with pesticide residues higher than the MRLs will not necessarily lead to any adverse health effects.

     The CFS will alert the trade to the incident and continue to follow up. Investigation is ongoing.

Ends/Thursday, July 5, 2018
Issued at HKT 18:00