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Feature Articles

(I) Safe Eating of Korean Barbecue Food

May : What a crazy shopping day! I'm tired and hungry now. Let's go somewhere for dinner!
Ann : Any suggestion?
Cyd : I'm starving to death. Whatever you decide, May.
Ann : She would, of course, suggest Korean barbecue food. She's a Korean fashion fan, wearing Korean made clothing head-to-toe.
Cyd : Why not ?
Soon after seated, May couldn't wait and rushed to get the food.
Ann : Waiter, would you please give each of us one more pair of chopsticks?
Cyd : Why do we need so many pairs of chopsticks?
Ann : We should use different pairs of chopsticks to handle raw and cooked food separately to avoid cross-contamination.
Cyd : Right. ...... May, you are taking so many foods. You must be very hungry. Hmm... I bet you'll be having abdominal pain tonight.
May : Why?
Ann : Look, the raw and cooked foods are on the same plate. The lo-shui chicken wings have been contaminated by the raw beef and will give you abdominal pain. You'd better sit down and let me get the food.
A few minutes later, Ann put two plates, one with raw meat and the other with cooked food, on the table.
Ann : Well, you can start with these cooked foods. I've just checked the thermometers in the storage compartments. The cooked food is stored at above 60 ℃ while the raw meat is kept below 4 ℃ . All of them are kept at a safe temperature.
May : Thank you, my dear!
Ann : The meat has been thinly sliced and so they can be cooked readily. If the meat slice is thick, the inside of the meat may not be fully cooked even if the surface is charred during barbecuing. Food should be cooked thoroughly to kill all the bacteria, and also......
May : I know I know. We also have to be careful about how we eat. We should use separate utensils for handling raw and cooked food to avoid cross-contamination. Once cooked, the food should be taken as soon as possible.
Ann : OK, you see the point now. Here is the slice of barbecued beef specially for you.
May : I heard that barbecued meat could cause cancer. Is that true?
Cyd : I heard about that too. A group of carcinogenic compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) may be formed and released when meat is barbecued. PAHs are found everywhere in the environment and are present in almost all food. A high level of PAHs may not be often found in raw food. However, cooking methods such as roasting and grilling will form and release more PAHs to give a higher level in the food. Also, charred food of almost any composition contains PAHs. People eating a lot of barbecued or grilled food will therefore have a higher intake of PAHs. You!|d be fine as long as you don!|t eat too much barbecued meat and avoid eating charred food.
Ann : Then, do PAHs cause cancer?
Cyd : According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, certain PAHs compounds are probably carcinogenic to humans.
Ann : Hey, May, are you listening? What's up?
May : The boutique across the street is having a big sale! Can't you see it's packed? Hurry up and let's go!

Korean BBQ

(II) Consume Preserved Vegetables Safely

Kai Ming : Uncle Grocer, can I have this one please? I need to get some preserved mustard green as my mum is going to cook it with pork for me tonight.
Uncle Grocer : Hi, boy, this is not preserved mustard green. It is over there. How much do you want?
Kai Ming : Mum, isn't this preserved mustard green?
Mrs Wong : These are all preserved vegetables. Actually, there is a wide variety of preserved vegetables, and preserved mustard green is just one of them.
Kai Ming : I see! Let me taste it now.

Preserved vegetables 1

Mrs Wong : Oh, no! Preserved vegetables are raw and uncooked vegetables. They may contain bacteria and parasites.
Kai Ming : Ugh! It's horrible. We'd better not eat them.
Mrs Wong : Don't worry, Son. The vinegar, sugar and salt, when applied properly during pickling can usually prevent the growth of bacteria in these preserved vegetables However, pickling alone may be insufficient to kill the parasites. Bacterial contamination may also be caused by the unhygienic handling practices by food factory workers. Hence, we should wash the preserved vegetables and cook them thoroughly.
Kai Ming : We should also buy food from reliable stores, right?
Mrs Wong : Brilliant! But not only that. Preserved vegetables may contain preservatives such as sorbic acid. So, we have to maintain a balanced diet to avoid excessive intake of preservatives from eating too many preserved vegetables.
Kai Ming : Uncle Grocer, you've just been to the toilet. Did you wash your hands thoroughly before picking the preserved mustard green for me?
Uncle Grocer : Of course!

Preserved vegetables 2

Readers' Corner

Sulphur Dioxide in Meat

Mrs Wong : Kai-ming, we have already bought some preserved mustard green for preparing Pork with Preserved Mustard Green. Let's buy some pork!
Kai-ming : Great. Let me buy the pork this time, How about this meat stall? The pork looks fresh with the cherry-red colour.
Kai-ming : Oh! Why does the trader sprinkle some seasoning-like substances from a bottle onto the pork?
Mrs Wong : Really? We!|d better not buy the pork from him. It is very likely that he adds sulphur dioxide to the pork, making it look fresher.
Kai-ming : Fresher? Isn't it better?
Mrs Wong : Don't be silly. It only looks fresh. I learned earlier from the website of the Centre for Food Safety that the colour of freshly cut meat is purplish-red. After exposing to air for 20 to 30 minutes, the meat will appear cherry-red which is the colour of pork we usually see in the meat stall. As display time increases, the portion of meat with brownish discolouration will increase due to oxidation. This is why some unscrupulous traders may add sulphur dioxide to meat illegally. Sulphur dioxide can slow down the oxidative process such that the meat will remain in attractive colour. As a consequence, the fresh meat colour can be retained even though the meat is exposed to air for an extended period of time.
Kai-ming : Is sulphur dioxide a preservative?
Mrs Wong : Yes. It is a preservative commonly used in dried fruits, pickled vegetables and sausages. In addition to its anti-microbial property, sulphur dioxide can delay discolouration in foods caused by oxidation. However, preservatives are not allowed to be added to fresh meat under the law.
Kai Ming : Does it affect our health if we eat meat containing sulphur dioxide?
Mrs Wong : Upon normal consumption, sulphur dioxide should pose no adverse health effects on humans. It is because sulphur dioxide is a food additive of low toxicity. It is also water soluble and most of it tends to be removed through washing and cooking. However, for susceptible individuals who are hypersensitive to sulphur dioxide, allergic reactions including shortness of breath, headache and nausea may be experienced.
Kai Ming : Are alternative methods available to keep the colour of fresh meat?
Mrs Wong : The colour of fresh meat can be retained by using suitable packaging methods, such as vacuum packaging, and proper storage such as storing under refrigeration.
Kai Ming : Mom, do we still have Pork with Preserved Mustard Green for dinner?
Mrs Wong : Of course! We should buy the meat from licensed fresh provision shops. We should avoid buying or consuming meat which is unnaturally red. However, before purchasing, I want to make a call now.
Kai Ming : Report to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department?
Mrs Wong : Yes, that's right. This is what a good citizen should do!

Food News

(I) Turn and Look for Healthier Food Choices
Nutrition Labelling Series - Know More About Wording Blacked Out or Covered on Food Packages

Why do I see food packages with some of the wording blacked out or covered?

The new Nutrition Labelling Regulation will come into effect on 1 July 2010 . The food trade has been taking corresponding measures actively to meet the new legal requirements. Increasing numbers of prepackaged foods are now provided with nutrition labels which contain the information on energy and seven specified nutrients (i.e. 1+7). In addition, you may also notice that certain wording on some food packages are blacked out or covered. This is mainly because:

Reason (1)

Under the new Regulation, prepackaged foods with small sales volume may apply for exemption from labelling the nutritional content but nutrition claims are not allowed to be made on these product packages. Therefore, some traders may black out or cover the nutrition claims on these product packages to render the products eligible for application for exemption. These exempted products will each bear a specific label to indicate their exemption status. Moreover, an exemption number will be marked either on the label or in close proximity to the place where the product is displayed for sale (e.g. on the shelf).

Nutrition Labelling Exempted

Reason (2)

Some prepackaged foods may have nutrition claims that are used overseas but not allowed under the new Regulation in Hong Kong . Therefore, some traders may black out or cover the relevant wording on the food packages to meet the requirements of the new Regulation in Hong Kong .

Different methods may be used to black out or cover the wording on food packages, such as using bold black pen to cross it out or using sticker to cover it. We hope that the explanation of the reasons for and the intentions of blacking out or covering certain information on the packages can help allay unwarranted concern of the public.

Black out product

Food Safety Plan Corner

Critical Control Point of Preparing Bean Curd with Minced Pork in Chili Sauce

With a spicy flavour, Bean Curd with Minced Pork in Chili Sauce is undoubtedly an appetising dish. Attention should be paid to some critical steps during the production of this dish for ensuring food safety. Below we provide with the preparation guidelines with special attention to these critical steps.


Bean curd 2 pieces
Fresh minced pork 200 grams (about 6 taels)


Chili bean paste 1 teaspoon
Dark soy sauce 1 teaspoon
Shaoxing wine 2 teaspoons
Salt 1 teaspoon
Corn flour 1 teaspoon
Pepper a little


  1. Rinse minced pork. Add Shaoxing wine, salt and pepper. Marinate for 10 minutes.
  2. Rinse and dice bean curd.
  3. Preheat the wok and add a tablespoon of oil. Add minced pork and cook briefly. Then add bean curd, chili bean paste, dark soy sauce and a bowl of water. Put on the cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add corn flour water, cook for 2 to 3 minutes and dish up.

Production Process

Production Process

Safety Tips on Production of Bean Curd with Minced Pork in Chili Sauce

  1. Purchase
    • Purchase the ingredients from reliable and hygienic shops.
    • When buying the ingredients, make sure they are fresh and wholesome.
      • the fresh minced pork is purchased from a licensed fresh provision shop.
      • all prepackaged food items (e.g. chili bean paste, dark soy sauce) are used before the expiry date.
  2. PStorage
    • Store the ingredients at safe temperature as soon as possible.
      • The fresh minced pork not for immediate use should be stored in a refrigerator. The temperature inside the refrigerator should be checked regularly with a thermometer to ensure that the fridge remains at 4 ℃ or below.
      • The raw minced pork and bean curd should be stored in containers with lids and put under cooked food or ready-to-eat food to avoid cross-contamination.
      • Practise the first-in-first-out principle for storage.
  3. PPreparation
    • Before cooking, wash all food contact surfaces (including worktops, chopping boards and utensils) thoroughly.
    • Before cooking / in the course of preparing food, wash hands thoroughly with running tap water and liquid soap.
    • Use two different sets of utensils (including knives, chopping boards, bowls and chopsticks) to handle raw food and cooked food separately.
    • Before cooking, rinse the bean curd and minced pork.
    • Marinated minced pork not for immediate cooking should be stored in a refrigerator at 4 ℃ or below.
  4. PCooking
    • The food should be thoroughly cooked before consumption until the meat juice becomes clear and not red.
    • Use a clean food thermometer to measure the core temperature of the food, which should reach at least 75 ℃ . (CCP)
  5. PConsumption
    • The cooked food should be consumed as soon as possible. It should not be kept at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

Bean Curd with Minced Pork in Chili Sauce

Briefing of Activities

Roving Exhibitions of "Food Safety Charter"

Exhibitions 1

Exhibitions 2

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has launched the "Food Safety Charter" since 2008. Members of the food trade are invited to sign up to the Charter. In 2009/10, a total of 21 food trade associations and more than 1 700 licensed food premises / supermarkets / convenience stores have signed up to the Charter.

In order to enhance public awareness of the 5 Keys and the Charter, roving exhibitions were held in 19 districts by the CFS. The public could identify the signatories in respective districts from the signatory list shown on the display panels and the computer provided at the venue.

Questions and Answers

Food Additives

Chinese New Year food 1

Q: I have consumed quite a lot of Chinese New Year foods during the festive period. Is there any control over the use of preservatives in those seasonal foods by the Government?
A: The Preservatives in Food (Amendment) Regulation 2008 sets out in details the permitted preservatives and antioxidants in different food categories and their maximum permitted levels. Since the preparation process and the ingredients can affect the categorization of the food, manufacturers are advised to take into account the ingredients and processing of their food products while referring to the permitted preservatives and antioxidants prescribed in the Regulation.

Chinese New Year food 2
Juice 1Juice 2

For details of the amended Regulation, please visit the following web page:
_pf.html #pf_sch1

Q: Some fruit and vegetable juices available on the market contain xylitol or other sweeteners. Is there any control over their use by the Government?
A: According to the "Interpretation" of the Sweeteners in Food Regulations (Cap. 132U), "sweetener" means any chemical compound which is sweet to the taste, but does not include any sugars or other carbohydrates or polyhydric alcohols. Sweeteners permitted to be used in food are set out in details in the Regulation. Given that xylitol is a kind of polyhydric alcohol, the Government does not object to the use of xylitol in food, but traders should ensure that their food products are safe for human consumption and comply with the provisions of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap.132) and its subsidiary legislation. For details, please visit the web page:

Truth against Fallacy

Safe Temperatures

Since winter is cold, it is unnecessary to store leftover cooked food in a refrigerator.
Wrong. Leftover cooked food should be cooled as soon as possible and kept in a refrigerator within 2 hours. Under favourable conditions such as in the "temperature danger zone" (between 4 ℃ and 60 ℃ ), even a bacterium can multiply to 4 000 in 4 hours and 2 million in 7 hours.

Enquiry and Subscription

Printed copies of the Food Safety Bulletin (Chinese version only) can be collected at the Communication Resource Unit located at 8/F, Fa Yuen Street Municipal Services Building, 123A Fa Yuen Street , Mong Kok, Kowloon . For enquiry, please call 2381 6096.