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Food Safety Focus (18th Issue, January 2008) – Food Incident Highlight

Nitrofuran, Malachite Green and Canned Pork Products

In early December 2007, the Centre for Food Safety sampled a number of canned pork products to examine for veterinary drug residues. Out of 19 samples taken, two were found to contain trace amount of a nitrofuran metabolite and one was found to contain malachite green. Based on the levels detected, usual consumption of the affected products is unlikely to pose significant health risk. The distributors concerned had initiated recalls of the affected products.

Nitrofurans are a group of antimicrobial agents which can be used as veterinary drugs. The main concern of nitrofurans in food is that a type of nitrofurans may cause cancer in experimental animals.

Malachite green (MG) is a synthetic dye that can be used as antifungal agent to treat diseases in fish. Certain metabolites of MG may persist in tissues for a long period of time. As MG is able to cause cancer in experimental animals, food should not contain MG.

Food manufacturers and importers should source food ingredients from reliable sources and should ensure that the food complies with local regulations.

llustration: Photos of products that are affected by the recall (left to right): batch number B2 5 of the 340g cans of "Shanghai MaLing B2 Pork Luncheon Meat (Less Sodium)"; batch number T12 10 of the 397g cans of "MaLing Stewed Pork Ribs"; and batch number M1 8 of the 198g cans of "MaLing Pork Luncheon Meat".