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Warning on three kinds of sword fish products from Vietnam containing excessive mercury

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (September 11) advised members of the public not to eat three kinds of sword fish loin and steak imported from Vietnam as samples taken were found containing a metal contaminant, mercury, at levels exceeding the legal limit. The trade which has the affected batches of the products should also stop selling them.

Product details are as follows:

1) Product name: FCL Frozen Sword Fish Loin Skin On 160-230g
Importer: Family Care Ltd
Best before: November, 2014
Place of origin: Vietnam

2) Product name: FCL Frozen Sword Fish Loin Skin On 2kg-up
Importer: Family Care Ltd
Best before: February, 2016
Place of origin: Vietnam

3) Product name: FCL Frozen Sword Fish Steak 140-160g
Importer: Family Care Ltd
Best before: February, 2016
Place of origin: Vietnam

A CFS spokesman said, "Subsequent to the notification received from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed of the European Commission that a kind of skin-on frozen swordfish, a predatory fish, exported from Vietnam was found to contain mercury at a level exceeding the legal limit earlier this month, a sample from each of the abovementioned sword fish products from an importer was taken for testing during the investigation conducted by the CFS. Test results showed that they contained mercury at levels ranging from 0.82 parts per million (ppm) to 2.5 ppm, exceeding the legal limit of 0.5 ppm.

"Upon usual consumption, the reported level of mercury in the swordfish sample exported from Vietnam is unlikely to pose adverse health effects for the general public," the spokesman said.

He said that fish contain many essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality proteins. Fish also provide the nutrients required for brain development of foetus and young children. Therefore, the public should maintain a balanced and varied diet. Moderate consumption of a variety of fish is also recommended.

Nevertheless, as the CFS has always advised, pregnant women, women planning pregnancy and young children should opt for fish that are smaller in size for consumption. To minimise the health risk posed to the foetus, infants and young children by excessive exposure to metal contaminants from food, they should avoid eating large-sized fish, predatory fish and other types of fish which may contain high levels of mercury (examples are tuna, alfonsino, shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy and king mackerel).

The CFS has informed the importer concerned of the testing results. According to the Food Adulteration (Metallic Contamination) Regulations (Cap. 132V), any person who sells food with metallic contamination above the legal limit may be prosecuted and is liable upon conviction to a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.

The importer has stopped sale of the affected batches of the products. The sword fish steak has not entered the market. The remaining stocks of the two kinds of sword fish loin as well as the sword fish steak have been marked and sealed. The CFS has also instructed the importer to recall the affected batches of the products from distributors, and will alert the trade to the incident.

"To avoid health risks posed by excessive intake of metallic contaminants, people are advised to maintain a balanced and varied diet. Moderate consumption of a variety of fish and fish products is recommended," the spokesman said.

The CFS will liaise with the Vietnam authorities, continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate follow-up actions.

Ends/Thursday, September 11, 2014

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Last revision date: 11-09-2014