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Food Safety Focus (131st Issue, June 2017 ) – Food Incident Highlight

Cadmium in Asparagus and Lily Bulb

Last month, the Centre for Food Safety’s routine Food Surveillance Programme detected cadmium, a metallic contaminant, in a fresh asparagus sample (0.21 mg/kg) and a dried lily bulb sample (0.45 mg/kg), at levels exceeded the legal limits stipulated in the Food Adulteration(Metallic Contamination) Regulations (Cap 132V).

Cadmium is a naturally occurring metallic element in the Earth’s crust. Crops (e.g. asparagus, lily bulb, mushrooms, rice and rice products) grown in cadmium-contaminated soil, irrigated with cadmium contaminated water or applied with cadmium-containing fertilisers may have increased concentrations of cadmium. Acute toxicity of cadmium due to dietary exposure is very unlikely but prolonged excessive intake of cadmium may have adverse effects on the kidneys and bones. Consumers are advised to take a balanced diet so as to avoid excessive exposure to certain chemicals or contaminants from a small range of food items.