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Investigations on canned luncheon meat containing mercury completed

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has completed investigations on a food complaint about a canned luncheon meat found to contain mercury droplets.

On July 17, the CFS received a complaint from the public that a canned "Greatwall Brand Chopped Pork and Ham" was found to have silver-coloured droplets when opened. The test results available on July 20 showed that the droplets were liquid mercury with a total weight of 0.4 gramme. As a precautionary measure, the distributing agent voluntarily recalled the batch of luncheon meat concerned. The CFS announced the case on the same day.

Announcing the investigation results today (August 11), a CFS spokesman said the Centre had collected 23 follow-up samples for tests following the incident, among which 11 were of the same batch as the sample found to contain mercury. The results showed that all samples did not contain mercury.

CFS officers visited the plant in Henan Province in order to better understand its production process. It was noted that there was an accredited system of food safety control (i.e. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point ("HACCP") System) and an electronic monitoring system for key production points. The Centre also noted that mercury was not used or involved in the equipment, raw materials and apparatus of the plant, including the digital thermometer. From January 2010 to date, the plant has produced 9.53 million cans of luncheon meat and no complaint about mercury has been received. The Mainland authorities did not find any problem in the manufacturing process in their investigations. Judging from all investigation results, the CFS concluded that mercury should not appear in the product under normal manufacturing conditions. As to whether human factor was involved in the incident, there was insufficient evidence for the CFS to arrive at any conclusion. To ensure food safety, the Mainland authorities will closely monitor the situation. The manufacturer has also vowed to strengthen quality control.

The spokesman said that after the incident, the CFS had not received any complaint about the same product containing mercury. The CFS would continue to monitor the situation through regular surveillance. Members of the public who find any foreign matters in any canned food should not consume the food and should inform the CFS.

Ends/Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Issued at HKT 21:03

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Last revision date:12-08-2010