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Food Safety Focus (13th Issue, August 2007) – Food Incident Highlight

Formaldehyde in Creamy Candies

Following recent overseas reports on the detection of formaldehyde in creamy candies, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) had collected 10 samples of these candies from local retail outlets for testing. All the samples were found negative for formaldehyde. Formaldehyde i s a chemical commonly used for manufacturing plastic resins which are in turn used in wood, paper and textile industries. It also occurs naturally in the environment and in some foods. As a metabolic intermediate, formaldehyde is present at low levels in most living organisms. However, it is sometimes used abusively as a bleaching agent or preservative during food processing. The general population is exposed to formaldehyde mainly by inhalation. Ingestion of a small amount of formaldehyde is unlikely to cause any acute health effects. Formaldehyde is not permitted for food use in Hong Kong, its presence in food is monitored under the Food Surveillance Programme of the CFS. Traders should ensure that they source food products from reliable sources whereas manufacturers should not use formaldehyde in food processing.