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2nd Issue 2010

Feature Articles

(I) Benefits of Nutrition Labels

The enactment of the Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) (Amendment: Requirements for Nutrition Labelling and Nutrition Claim) Regulation 2008 (the Amendment Regulation) signifies a new era of food labelling in Hong Kong. After the Amendment Regulation comes into force on 1 July 2010, most of the prepackaged food products sold in Hong Kong carry nutrition labels.

The introduction of the Nutrition Labelling Scheme aims to assist the public to make informed food choices, to encourage food manufacturers to apply sound nutrition principles in the formulation of food, and to regulate misleading or deceptive labels and claims. The information on nutrition labels is very useful. It enables consumers to compare the nutrient contents of different foods to make healthier food choices. For instance, they may choose foods lower in fat, sodium (or salt) and sugar. The nutrition information also let consumers know the nutrient contents of food so that they can estimate the contribution of energy and nutrients to the overall diet and choose the right food to suit their own dietary needs. Further details on the Nutrition Labelling Scheme can be found at the website

(II) Microbiological hazards in Chinese cold dishes

Andy and Sammy are discussing what kinds of food they will need for the graduation party to be held in two weeks.

  Andy: In such a hot weather, we'd better have cold dishes. They are delicious. Let's order foods like pig knuckle, five-spice beef, jellyfish, Lo Shui bean curd and bean curd with lime preserved eggs for the party.
  Samuel: They're yummy. But improper preparation and storage of these cold dishes may pose a risk of food poisoning.
  Andy: Why?
  Sammy: The inherent properties and preparation process of some Chinese cold dishes, such as Lo Shui and like products, jellyfish and bean curd with lime preserved eggs have potential microbiological hazards. The most common types of microorganisms that cause food poisoning are Escherichia coli, Salmonella species, Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus.
  Andy: How do these microorganisms contaminate the food?
  Sammy: Chinese cold dishes are normally prepared or cooked in advance and stored at room temperature for a period of time before serving and they are not usually reheated before consumption. Insufficient cooking, post-cooking contamination and prolonged storage at room temperature may also pose a risk of microbiological contamination.
  Andy: Oh, I see.
  Sammy: Foods will be directly or indirectly contaminated with microorganisms if food handlers fail to follow good personal and food hygiene practices in food preparation (e.g. not washing their hands thoroughly, or storing cold dishes improperly). Taking jellyfish as an example, rinsing and soaking jellyfish with contaminated water, or improper storage of cooked jellyfish may cause microorganisms to grow in large number, affecting the microbiological quality of the food products. As for bean curd with lime preserved eggs, the preparation of this cold dish involves manual handling. Cutting the lime preserved eggs with a knife used to cut raw ingredients will lead to microbiological contamination.
  Andy: Now I realise there are potential microbiological hazards in Chinese cold dishes. We'd better consult our teachers before deciding what kinds of food we will need for the party.

Advice to the Public

Readers' Corner

Acrylamide – a carcinogen in fried and baked snacks

Acrylamide is a toxic and potentially carcinogenic chemical. Acrylamide is mainly formed during high temperature cooking of carbohydrate-rich foods. Potato products (e.g. potato chips and French fries), crisps, biscuits and taro products generally contain higher levels of acrylamide. In Chinese cooking, as baking is not common, acrylamide is found mainly in fried foods. Fried root vegetables (e.g. potatoes and taros) contain more acrylamide than noodles or rice. Besides, acrylamide formation is directly related to frying time, and its formation increases with time.

Advice to Consumers

Food News

Turn and Look for Healthier Food Choices
Nutrition Labelling Series – Nutrition Label Widget

The Nutrition Labelling Scheme comes into force on 1 July 2010 . In order to enhance public understanding of nutrition labels and nutrition claims, the Centre for Food Safety has launched a dedicated website on nutrition labelling at In addition to disseminating information on nutrition labels and nutrition claims, the website also provides a device named Nutrition Label Widget for the public to compare energy and nutrient contents of different prepackaged foods and to calculate energy and nutrient intakes from prepackaged foods. We will explain how to use the Nutrition Label Widget in this issue.

Getting Started

  1. Start-up Nutrition Label Widget
  2. Enter information on nutrition label
    • After reading the instructions, start inputting the name of food and information on nutrition labels to the Widget.
    • Then, click Calculate Energy / Nutrient Intakes to enter into the calculation mode or select Compare Energy / Nutrient Contentsto enter into the comparison mode.

Calculation Mode

  1. Calculate energy and nutrient intakes from prepackaged food
    Enter the Amount of Food Consumed
    • Enter the amount of food consumed and then click Engery / Nutrient Intakes
    • The Widget will calculate the energy and nutrient intakes from the food.

    Total Energy
    And also the total energy and nutrient intakes.

  2. Calculate Personal Intake Goal Percentage After Food Consumption
    • Click Calculate Personal Intake Goal
    • Refer to the information on gender, age and physical activity level on the right column and select your Personal Intakes Goal for energy.
      Select Personal Intalke Goal
    • After clicking Calculate Personal Intake Goal, the Widget will calculate the nutrient intakes.
    • The Widget will also show the percentage of personal intake goal.
      Calculate Personal Intake Goal

Comparison Mode

  1. Compare energy and nutrient contents of prepackaged food
    • Click Compare Engery / Nutrient Contents
    • If information of only one food product has been entered, please enter information on the nutrition label of other food product(s) before making the comparison.
    • Comparison is made on the basis of 100g/ml of food.
    • If the amount of total fat, sugars and sodium of a food product are less than that of the others, the Widget will list the recommended choice. For example:
      Nutrition Label

As the Widget is so user-friendly, why not try it out on internet? With the help of the Widget, you can compare the energy and nutrient contents of different food products and calculate the energy and nutrient intakes from the food concerned.

Briefing of Activities

Food Safety Day 2010

Food Safety Day is an annual highlight organised by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS). This year's Food Safety Day is on 28th June 2010, shortly before the implementation date of the Nutrition Labelling Scheme on 1 July 2010. The CFS joined hands with the Radio Television Hong Kong, the Education Bureau and the Committee on Home-School Co-operation in organising the Food Safety Day 2010 as a preface to the third phase of the Publicity and Education Campaign on Nutrition Labelling. With "For Your Health Count on Nutrition Label 1+7" as the theme, this year's event aimed to enhance understanding of nutrition labelling among students through various activities (such as interactive games and creative competitions) and to promote the use of nutrition labelling in achieving a healthy diet. The event was held at Hong Kong Southorn Stadium, Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong on 28 June 2010.

Food Safety Q&A

Question :
I always find desiccant (anti-moisture) packets inside food packages. How should they be handled?

Desiccants are often included in food packages to maintain low humidity in the package, and in turn limit mould growth and extend shelf-life. Desiccants in food packages are usually in the form of small beads or powder, and are normally packed in sachets. Those small beads are silica gel. Being chemically and biologically inert, silica gel does not react with other substances easily, and does not cause harm to humans if they ingest a small amount of silica gel accidentally. The white powder is calcium oxide, also called quicklime. It becomes caustic when in contact with moisture and may cause burning sensation, stomach cramps and diarrhoea if swallowed accidentally.
Desiccant is not a food. Consumers are advised to discard the desiccant once the food package is opened to avoid accidental consumption. One should not eat the food if the sachet of desiccant is found broken. Furthermore, food manufacturers should put up warning "Do Not Eat 請勿食用" on the sachets of desiccants in both English and Chinese.

Food Safety Plan Corner

Critical Control Point of Preparing Stir-fried Bitter Cucumber with Beef

Despite the bitter taste, bitter cucumber is a popular food among Chinese. An experienced cook may marinate bitter cucumber in salt before cooking to reduce the bitterness.

In the following, we provide safety tips on preparing a popular dish called Stir-fried Bitter Cucumber with Beef. We demonstrate the application of a food safety management plan here while making this dish.


Fresh beef 200 grams (about 5 taels) ‧ Bitter cucumber 2 pieces.


Light soy sauce 1 teaspoon ‧ Corn flour 1 teaspoon ‧ Sugar 1 teaspoon

Pepper a little ‧ Garlic 5 grams ‧ Fermented black beans 5 grams

Steps :

  1. Rinse and cut bitter cucumber into slices.
  2. Cut beef into slices. Add light soy sauce, corn flour, sugar and pepper. Marinate for 15 minutes.
  3. Add oil into wok. Stir fry the beef in the wok lightly. Dish up for later use.
  4. Preheat the wok and add half a tablespoon of oil. Add garlic and fermented black beans. Stir fry until they smell good. Add bitter cucumber and stir fry until tender. Then add the beef, stir fry evenly and serve.

Safety Tips on Production of Stir-fried Bitter Cucumber with Beef

  1. Purchase
    • Purchase the ingredients from reliable and hygienic shops.
    • When buying the ingredients, make sure that:
      • the ingredients are fresh and wholesome.
      • the fresh beef is purchased from a licensed fresh provision shop.
      • the bitter cucumber is neither damaged nor bruised on the surface.
      • prepackaged food items (e.g. pepper, light soy sauce) are used before the expiry date.
  2. Storage
    • Store the ingredients at safe temperature as soon as possible.
      • Beef 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.
      • Raw beef should be stored in a container with a lid and put under cooked food or ready-to-eat food to avoid cross-contamination.
    • Practise the first-in-first-out principle for storage.
  3. Preparation
    • Before cooking, wash all food contact surfaces (including worktops, chopping boards and utensils, etc.) thoroughly.
    • Before cooking / in the course of preparing food, wash hands thoroughly with running tap water and 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 bitter cucumber and beef.
    • Marinated beef not for immediate cooking should be stored in a refrigerator at 4 ℃ or below.
  4. Cooking
    • The food should be thoroughly cooked until the meat juice of beef becomes clear and not red before consumption.
    • Use a clean food thermometer to measure the core temperature of the food, which should reach at least 75 ℃ . (CCP)
  5. Consumption
    • The cooked food should be consumed as soon as possible. It should not be kept at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

Truth against Fallacy

Washing Vegetables

Vegetables available in the market are clean and can be consumed after a brief rinse.

Besides surface dirt, vegetables available on the market may be tainted with contaminants such as heavy metals and pesticide residues. To reduce the intake of contaminants due to consumption of tainted vegetables, members of the public can wash vegetables well in clean running water for several times, then soak them in water for an hour or blanch them in boiling water for one minute and discard the water.

Brain Gym

Please draw a line from the following Five Keys to Food Safety to the corresponding wording in the opposite column.

Brain Gym


See answers

Enquiry and Subscription

Printed copies of the Food Safety Bulletin 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. The public may also visit the website of the Centre for Food Safety ( for the online version.