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Food Safety Focus (51st Issue, October 2010) – Food Incident Highlight

Sulphur Dioxide in Fresh Beef

The second phase of the targeted food surveillance project on sulphur dioxide in meat conducted by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) revealed that 9 fresh beef out of 179 meat samples tested were found containing non-permitted sulphur dioxide. The application of sulphur dioxide in fresh, chilled and frozen meat for retaining the desirable fresh meat colour is not permitted in Hong Kong due to possible deception caused.

The CFS has closely monitored the situation and issued warning letters to the shop operators concerned and collected follow-up samples. Conviction results in fine and imprisonment. For repeated offenders, their license will be suspended or cancelled.

Sulphur dioxide may induce allergic reactions such as asthmatic attacks, headache and nausea in individuals who are sensitive to this chemical. Consumers are advised not to buy meat which is unnaturally red.