Updates on CFS' investigations into the incident of "substandard cooking oil" from Taiwan

Further to the announcement made yesterday on "substandard cooking oil" from Taiwan, the Centre for Food and Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (September 6) provided updates on investigations into the incident, and appealed to the trade to stop using and selling the related or suspected oil and food products, and contact the CFS as soon as possible.

Taking into account that notification from the Taiwanese authorities is still pending, and the incident may involve a wide spectrum of food trade and food, the CFS must prioritise its investigation based on risk assessment to focus on a number of high-risk food trades, including cooking oil, bakeries, "dim sum" manufacturers and snacks shops selling Taiwanese-style food, at the present stage, a CFS spokesman said.

With regard to the two affected food traders mentioned in the press release issued yesterday, the CFS had contacted Dah Chong Hong Limited for investigation and confirmed that the company had imported two kinds of lard oil produced by the Chang Guann Co., Ltd. As for the Maxim's Cakes, investigation by the CFS is ongoing. To ensure that different lines of food business run by the same company and the food they sell are not affected, the CFS will take samples of other doubtful food products for testing.

During investigations into companies selling cooking oil today, the CFS discovered that at least one more cooking oil distributor called "Shing Cheong Hong" might have distributed lard oil produced by the Chang Guann Co., Ltd. The distributor had suspended the sale of the affected product. The CFS had also taken samples of the product for testing as well as marked and sealed them. The CFS is also tracing the sale and distribution record of the distributor to ascertain whether other companies are affected.

The spokesman added, "While the Taiwanese authorities are investigating into the incident, the CFS, in parallel, is proactively following up on the incident with food traders in Hong Kong. We have also enhanced inspections to outlets specialised in selling Taiwanese food. We will keep the public informed, in a timely manner, of the latest results of our investigations through press releases and by uploading the information on to our website. The CFS once again calls on traders who have been or may have been affected by the incident to take the initiative to immediately stop using and selling products which are affected or suspected to be affected. The trade should also sealed these products and contact the CFS as soon as possible."

Section 52 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132) provides that any person sells to the prejudice of a purchaser any food which is not of the nature, substance or quality of the food demanded by the purchaser shall be guilty of an offence, which is liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for three months upon conviction. Furthermore, pursuant to section 54 of the same Ordinance, all food for sale in Hong Kong, locally produced or imported, should be fit for human consumption. An offender is subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months upon conviction.

Since the first day of the incident, the CFS has been trying to keep in close contact with the Taiwanese authorities to facilitate investigations by both sides.

Members of the public who have bought the affected products should stop consuming them and contact relevant retailers. The CFS will continue to monitor and deal with the incident to safeguard food safety in Hong Kong.

Ends/Saturday, September 6, 2014