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Sudan Dyes Found in Eggs
(Updated on 28 November 2006)

Background

There are recent concerns that non-permitted Sudan dyes were used in poultry feeds to enhance the colour of egg yolks, in particular those labelled as "red yolk" eggs. Follow-up investigation conducted by Mainland authorities and the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) both revealed that Sudan dyes were present in some duck and hen egg samples.

Actions Taken by the Centre for Food Safety

The CFS is highly concerned of the incident. Close liaison has been maintained with Mainland authorities and the trade to keep updated of the latest situation.

The CFS has immediately stepped up surveillance in the local markets. Among the some 180 samples tested, 7 were positive for Sudan dyes (2 salted duck eggs, both labelled as "red yolk", one from Fujian and the other from Hubei; 5 hen eggs reported to come from Hunan).

Upon the request of the CFS, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) agreed on the temporarily suspension of export of hen eggs from Hunan Province to Hong Kong.

The CFS will closely monitor the situation, and will keep the public posted of the latest situation.

What are Sudan dyes?

Sudan dyes are synthetic chemical dyes which can be used for colouring hydrocarbon solvents, oils, fats, waxes and plastics. In food, the main concern is its cancer causing potential.

In Hong Kong, Sudan dyes are non-permitted colouring matters under the Colouring Matter in Food Regulations, Cap.132H. Based on the present information regarding the levels of Sudan dyes found in the affected eggs, risk assessment suggested that usual consumption of eggs is unlikely to pose significant health effect. However, the health risk would be greater for people who frequently eat extremely large amounts of eggs.

Advice to Trade

  1. Traders are urged to be cautious about the origins from which they source their eggs, and should do so from credible sources only.
  2. Traders are urged to stop importing or selling those products labelled as "red yolk" eggs.
  3. Contravention of the Regulation is liable to a maximum fine of HK$50,000 and imprisonment of six months.

Advice to Consumers

  1. Based on present information regarding the levels of Sudan dyes found in the affected eggs, usual consumption of eggs is unlikely to pose significant health risk. There should be no cause for undue concern.
  2. Members of the public, however, are advised to buy eggs from reputable shops. They should pay special attention to the origin of the eggs, and should avoid buying those eggs of unknown origin or if they are unreasonably cheap.
  3. Members of the public should avoid buying and eating those products labelled as "red yolk" eggs. If they notice any sale of such products in the market, they should immediately report it to the CFS via 24 hour hotline (2868 0000) for our follow-up action.

Further information

Further information about Sudan dyes and the incident can be obtained from the following webpages:

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