Recently, Chilean Authority confirmed the presence of dioxins in two samples of chicken meat originated from O'Higgins Region. Indeed, what are dioxins and how do they get into the food chain? What are the measures taken by the Centre for Food Safety in relation to this incident?

Dioxins are a group of persistent organic p ollutants that are present in the environment. They are polychlorinated aromatic compounds arising from incomplete burning either naturally or as by-products of human activities e.g. metal smelting, molding or burning of chlorine-containing organic chemicals such as plastics.

Dioxins dissolve in fat and are not easily broken down. They move up the food chain , passing from plants to animals and hence can naturally accumulate in food animals particularly in the fatty tissues.

In Hong Kong, dioxins in foods are closely monitored by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) under the food surveillance program me. Risk assessment and follow-up actions will be taken when elevated levels of dioxins are found.

The CFS has contacted the Chilean authority for further information. It was subsequently confirmed that the dioxin levels in the food concerned did not exceed our action level. The Chilean authority has started investigation of the incident and suspended export of poultry products that come from the affected locations until the investigation is completed. Nevertheless, the CFS will remain vigilant and monitor for any new development and implement appropriate control measures, including hold and test the food concerned for dioxins, as necessary.