Food Safety Focus (160th Issue, November 2019) – Food Incident Highlight
Enhanced Regulation to Protect the Public from Metallic Contaminants in Food
The Food Adulteration (Metallic Contamination) (Amendment) Regulation 2018 came into force on 1 November 2019. It first took effect for certain fresh foods with a shorter shelf life e.g. fruits, vegetables, aquatic animals, poultry and meat, etc. while for other foods which normally have a longer shelf/storage life, it will take effect from 1 November 2020.
Excessive dietary exposures to metallic contaminants may lead to various adverse health effects. The enhanced regulation covers more metallic contaminants and food items. It has been aligned with the Codex standards as far as possible. Some local standards are more stringent than the Codex ones such as methylmercury in fish. These standards have been set to achieve better health protection for the local population taking into account the local consumption amount of the particular food and the associated risk.
While the regulation is enhanced, the public should note that low levels of metallic contaminants in foods are unavoidable as they are present everywhere in the modern industrial world. The public is advised to maintain a balanced diet to avoid excessive exposures to metallic contaminants from a small range of food items.