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Food Safety Focus (181st Issue, August 2021) – Food Incident Highlight

Labelling of Sulphur Dioxide in Prepackaged Food

Recently, two prepackaged food samples were detected with sulphur dioxide, an allergy-causing preservative. Although the levels detected were within the legal limit, its presence was not declared on the food labels. According to the Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) Regulations (Cap. 132W), if a food contains sulphur dioxide in a concentration of 10 parts per million or more, thefunctional class and the name shall be specified in the list of ingredients.

 Sulphur dioxide is a commonly used preservative in various foods, including dried vegetables, dried fruits, pickled vegetables, juice concentrates, etc. Sulphur dioxide is water-soluble, and most of it can be removed through washing and cooking. However, individuals who are allergic to this preservative may experience breathing difficulties, headaches and nausea after consumption. The trade has to comply with the requirements and list all additives present by functional class for prepackaged food for sale in Hong Kong.