Frequently Asked Questions (Public)
- Products Affected
- Food Safety Order
- Control of Oil Products
- Benzo[a]pyrene and Health
- Advice to the Public
|Q1.||Which types of lard/ lard products were involved in this incident?|
|Q2.||Which types of food products may be involved in this incident?|
|Q3.||I have consumed the food specified in the Food Safety Order, any adverse health effect will be anticipated?|
|Q13.||What is gutter oil?|
|Q14.||What is Benzo[a]pyrene?|
|Q15.||Does the existence of B[a]P in oil mean that the oil is "gutter oil"?|
|Q16.||What amount of B[a]P consumed will be harmful to health?|
|Q17.||Is there any advice on reducing exposure to B[a]P?|
|Q1||Which types of lard/ lard products were involved in this incident?|
Taiwan authorities detected "substandard lard" and the use of it in the production of food for sale in Taiwan market. According to the existing information from the Taiwan authorities, various lard/lard products produced on or after 1 March 2014 by Chang Guann Co., Ltd (Chang Guann) in Taiwan were involved.
|Q2||Which types of food products may be involved in this incident?|
According to the existing information from the Taiwan authorities, the incident may involve a wide spectrum of food trade and food. The Taiwan authorities had released a list of affected products in their website. Relevant information had been uploaded onto the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) website. The public may pay attention to the information published on the website to keep update to the incident.
In Hong Kong, the Maxim's Cakes had used the incriminated lard 「全統香豬油」 produced by the Chang Guann Co., Ltd in making its pineapple buns. The vendor concerned had taken the affected product off the shelves and stopped using the incriminated lard. Besides, two kinds of products manufactured by Wei Chuan Foods Corporation with substandard lard had been exported to Hong Kong. The CFS has alerted the trade to stop sale of these products and issued a food alert on the products.
|Q3||I have consumed the food specified in the Food Safety Order, any adverse health effect will be anticipated?|
|A3||According to existing information from the Taiwanese authorities and the reported analytical test results from the CFS (including benzo[a]pyrene, aflatoxins and metallic contaminants), the risk assessment from the CFS showed that the food safety risk might be increased if consuming the specified food. Nevertheless, the risk is considered to be not high and there is no cause for undue concern.|
|Q6||How does the CFS test and identify the cooking oil made by "gutter oil"?|
|A6||At present, there is not any established scientific method to test and identify the cooking oil made by "gutter oil". The international practice for ascertaining the quality of cooking oil is by conducting tests on the amount of Benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P), aflatoxins and metal contaminants contained in the oil. The CFS was given to know that the Taiwan authorities adopted a similar approach for testing. The CFS, in principle, will adopt the aforesaid method as well.|
|Q7||Is there any international, regional or national regulation on B[a]P in edible oil?|
The Codex Alimentarius Commission has not established standard of B[a]P in edible oil. The standard of B[a]P in edible oil in Mainland China was 10 μg /kg for edible oil.
|Q8||What is the action level for B[a]P in edible oil set by the CFS?|
In 2005, the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) concluded that the estimated intakes of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) including B[a]P were of low concern for human health. In order to protect public health and address public concerns, the CFS has set an action level of 10μg/kg for B[a]P in edible oil, which is in line with the mainland China standard. The action level was endorsed by the Expert Committee on Food Safety (Expert Committee).
|Q9||Why does the CFS set 10 μg/kg as the action level for B[a]P in edible oil?|
The ultimate goal for setting an action level is to protect public health. The Expert Committee noted that based on local consumption data, even in the unlikely event that all edible oil consumed by a person is contaminated with 10μg/kg of B[a]P (the maximum limit established in the mainland China ), the derived Margin of Exposure (MOE) will be greater than 10,000, indicating the estimated intake of B[a]P is of low concern for human health. In addition, since mainland China is our main food supplier, setting the same action level as Mainland at 10 μg/kg can also avoid unnecessary trade barrier.
|Q10||Can the action level of B[a]P in edible oils be applied to fat?|
Since oils can be converted to fat by various chemical methods (e.g. hydrogenation), the action level of B[a]P on edible oils can also be applied to fat.
|Q11||What are the follow-up actions taken by the CFS against edible oil samples found to exceed the action level i.e. 10μg/kg for B[a]P?|
If an edible oil sample is found to contain B[a]P at level equal or greater than 20μg/kg, the derived MOE will be lower than 10,000, indicating a public health concern. As such, CFS would take enforcement action in accordance with Section 541 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132), and initiate a mandatory recall of the edible oil concerned. If an edible oil sample is found to contain B[a]P at level greater than 10μg/kg but lower than 20μg/kg, the derived MOE will be higher than 10,000, indicating that the public health concern is low. Nevertheless, under such scenario, CFS may still take enforcement action in accordance with Section 522 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132).
2 Section 52 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) provides that if any person sells to the prejudice of a purchaser any food which is not of the nature, or not of the substance, or not of the quality, of the food demanded by the purchaser, he shall be guilty of an offence.
|Q12||PAHs are a group of substances. Why does the CFS set action level for B[a]P only?|
Currently, B[a]P is the only PAH classified as "carcinogenic to human" (i.e. Group 1 agent) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization. The Codex Alimentarius Commission has not established any standard for PAHs including B[a]P in food. It is noted that the European Commission, Korea and mainland China have established maximum level for B[a]P in edible oil while only the European Commission has set maximum level for other PAHs in food. The CFS will continue to monitor the international development.