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Food Safety Focus (157th Issue, August 2019) – Food Incident Highlight

Illegal Use of Formaldehyde in Baby Napa Cabbage

Recently, media reported that some baby napa cabbages were found to contain formaldehyde in mainland China. It was alleged that formaldehyde was used to keep the cabbage fresh in transit.

Formaldehyde is a chemical mainly for industrial use. Formaldehyde can be naturally present in food including fruits, vegetables, meats, marine fish and crustacean in small amount. However, formaldehyde is not a permitted food additive.

The trade is reminded that the use of preservatives in food must comply with the Preservatives in Food Regulation (Cap 132BD). Over the last year, the Centre for Food Safety has taken 150 samples including vegetables to test for formaldehyde, and all results were found satisfactory. As a general advice, consumers are advised to rinse vegetables thoroughly under clean running water.