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Food Safety Focus (57th Issue, April 2011) – Food Incident Highlight

Leanness-enhancing Agents in Pork

Last month, the media reported the abuse of leanness-enhancing agents used in raising pigs in the Mainland to produce lean pork which raised public concerns. Leanness-enhancing agents, commonly refer to a group of compounds called β-agonists, when used inappropriately in food animals, can leave residues at levels causing acute poisoning in humans who consume them. Symptoms include rapid heart beats, dizziness, headache, nervousness, tremor and blood pressure changes.

In Hong Kong, the sale of meat or offal tainted with β-agonists including clenbuterol and salbutamol is prohibited under the Harmful Substances in Food Regulations (Cap 132AF). In the past three years, six samples of pork and pork products were tested positive for clenbuterol and salbutamol under the food surveillance programme. The Centre for Food Safety immediately took enforcement actions such as issuance of warning letters to stop sales and destroy the affected products.

The trade should source pork and pork products from reliable suppliers. They should ensure that all foods for sale in Hong Kong comply with the legal standards and are fit for human consumption.