The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (June 26) said that subsequent to the detection of excessive pesticide residues and a colouring matter which should not be added to fruit and vegetables in a raw and unprocessed state in durian samples imported from Thailand earlier, the Centre has been following up on the incident closely. The CFS has taken follow-up samples from the vendors concerned, and detected again in the husks of three durian samples imported from Thailand the presence of curcumin, a colouring matter which should not be added to fruit and vegetables in a raw and unprocessed state.
"It is believed that the unsatisfactory samples found this time were put up for sale in the market at the same time as those affected durian samples found earlier. The CFS earlier on instructed the vendors concerned to stop sale and remove from shelves the affected products, and believes that the products in question are no longer available for sale. Nevertheless, the CFS has warned the vendors concerned again and prosecution will be initiated," a CFS spokesman said.
The spokesman pointed out that the Centre has been liaising closely with the Thailand authorities on the incident and learnt that they were implementing remedial actions to strengthen the control measures on Thai durians so as to ensure that the product complies with the requirements of Hong Kong laws.
"Turmeric (curcumin) is a rhizomatour herbaceous perennial plant. According to the Colouring Matter in Food Regulations (Cap 132H), although colouring matter can be added to processed food, it should not be added to meat, game, poultry, fish, fruit or vegetables in a raw and unprocessed state. Upon conviction, offenders shall be liable to a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months," the spokesman said.
"Although curcumin is a food colour of low-toxicity, the law has a stringent requirement on its use. The trade should observe the relevant laws and regulations, follow Good Manufacturing Practice and use food additives in an appropriate manner," he said.
General speaking, removing the shells of hard-shelled fruits upon consumption can reduce the intake of colouring matters, the spokesman noted.
The CFS will alert the local trade and continue to follow up and take appropriate action including stepping up sample testing to safeguard public health.
Ends/Friday, June 26, 2015