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Food safety report for May released

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) today (June 30) released the findings of its Food Safety Report for May. Of the 4,500 food samples tested, 25 samples were found to be unsatisfactory (of which 12 samples were from the same brand) and the overall satisfactory rate was 99.4%.

A CFS spokesman said that about 2,900 food samples were taken for chemical tests and the remaining 1,500 for microbiological and other tests.

The microbiological tests cover pathogens and the chemical tests detect pesticides, preservatives, metallic contamination and colouring matters, etc.

The samples included vegetables, fruits and their products; meat, poultry and their products; aquatic products; milk, milk products and frozen confections; and cereals, grains and their products.

Vegetables, fruits and products
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About 1,600 samples of vegetables, fruits and their products were taken for microbiological and chemical tests. A sample each of watercress, spinach and chives was found to contain cadmium at a level of 0.14 parts per million (ppm), 0.65ppm and 0.26ppm respectively, exceeding the legal limit of 0.1ppm.

Results of other tests (for pathogens, pesticides and colouring matters, etc) were satisfactory.

Meat, poultry and products
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The CFS collected about 400 samples of meat, poultry and their products for microbiological and chemical tests. All the samples were satisfactory.

Aquatic products
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About 400 samples, including fish, shellfish and their products, were analysed for micro-organisms, chemicals and biotoxins.

Besides the unsatisfactory samples of one mullet and one deep fried fish cake announced earlier, five unsatisfactory samples were found. They included two samples of dried abalone. They were found to contain a preservative, sulphur dioxide, at a level of 212-1307.4ppm, exceeding the legal limit of 30ppm.

One sample of frozen blue fin tuna was found to contain mercury at a level of 0.71ppm which was above the legal limit of 0.5ppm.

Another sample of crab was found to contain cadmium at a level of 2.51ppm above the legal limit of 2ppm.

One sample of fan scallop was found to contain paralytic shellfish poisoning toxin at a level of 336 micrograms per 100 grams.

Results of other tests including pathogens were satisfactory.

Milk, milk products and frozen confections
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The CFS took about 1,000 samples of milk, milk products and frozen confections for microbiological and chemical analysis (including melamine, colouring matters and sweeteners). Thirteen samples were found to be unsatisfactory with 12 of them exceeding the legal limit of bacterial count at 30,000 per gram.

Four samples of thickened cream of one consignment were found to contain a total bacteria count of between 40,000 and 900,000 per gram whereas another five samples of thickened light cream of another consignment contain 190,000 to 31 million. The total bacteria count of three samples of pure cream from a third consignment ranged from 120,000 to 510,000.

The concerned samples were collected from three consignments of a new brand imported into Hong Kong. All samples were collected at import level under hold and test import procedures and no stock has been released into the market.

A soft ice cream sample was found to contain coliform organisms at a level of 130 per gram, above the legal limit of not more than 100 per gram.

Results of other tests including pathogens, melamine, colouring matters and sweeteners were satisfactory.

Cereals, grains and products
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About 300 samples were tested for micro-organisms and chemicals. All the samples were satisfactory.

Other food commodities
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The CFS took about 800 samples, including dim sum, sushi, sashimi, condiments and sauces, for tests. Two unsatisfactory samples of steamed bun were found to contain Red 2G, a non-permitted colouring matter.

Conclusion
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The CFS spokesman reminded importers to source frozen confections from reliable manufacturers. Manufacturers should ensure that the process of producing frozen confections is hygienic, including proper disinfection of equipment. Retailers should source food from reliable suppliers.

To reduce the risk of cadmium in vegetables, the spokesman reminded consumers to soak vegetables and wash thoroughly before consumption to remove cadmium on the surface.

He also advised consumers to remove the viscera of shellfish before cooking, eat a small amount at any one meal and avoid consuming the cooking liquid.

Regarding the unsatisfactory samples, the CFS has taken follow-up action, including asking the concerned vendors to stop selling and to dispose of the affected food, taking further samples and issuing warning letters. Prosecution will be taken if there is sufficient evidence.

Ends/Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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Last revision date:30-06-2010