Latest developments of CFS' investigations into the incident of "substandard lard" from Taiwan

The Centre for Food and Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department continued investigation into the incident of "substandard lard" from Taiwan. A spokesman for the CFS today (September 8) pointed out that the Centre has availed itself of the powers conferred on the Director of Food and Hygiene (DFEH) under the Food Safety Ordinance (Cap 612) to request the companies which may have been affected by the incident to submit transaction records of their food to facilitate tracking and marking and sealing of the possibly affected products to safeguard food safety.

According to the Food Safety Ordinance, any person who carries on a food importation/ distribution business shall register with the DFEH as a food importer/ food distributor. Furthermore, any person who, in the course of business, imports, acquires or supplies by wholesale food in Hong Kong shall keep transaction records of the business to which it has supplied the food and the business from which it has acquired the food. The DFEH can check any record kept by the food trader.

The spokesman said, "Any person imports food without registering as a food importer or distributor shall be guilty of an offence, which is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months upon conviction. Any person who fails to comply with record keeping requirements shall also be guilty of an offence, and will be subject to a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for three months upon conviction. The law has also conferred powers upon the DFEH, demanding importers and distributors to provide import or supply records. Failing to do so is an offence which carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for three months upon conviction."

On the progress of investigation the spokesman noted, the CFS found another import company, the Hop Hing Oils and Fats (Hong Kong) Ltd had been importing a kind of refined lard produced by the Chang Guann Co., Ltd since early this year. Although the refined lard was not the contaminated CG Fragrant Lard Oil as defined by the Taiwanese authorities, the CFS requested the company to initiate a recall for the sake of precaution. The Centre will take samples for testing and mark and seal the remaining stocks in addition to supervising the company's product recall.

Furthermore, some ingredient possibly contaminated as defined by the Taiwanese authorities may have been added to curry paste used by a local Taiwan restaurant chain, Bafang Yunji. The restaurant chain has voluntarily stopped using and disposed of the curry paste concerned.

Until now, the CFS has only found Urban Food Limited had imported a kind of "substandard lard", the CG Fragrant Lard Oil, which was named by the Taiwanese authorities. The company claimed that they had completed recalling the affected products. The concerned products have also been all marked and sealed by the CFS.

The spokesman said, "The CFS has taken high-risk and possibly contaminated food and lard samples to test for levels of Benzo[a]pyrene, aflatoxins and metal contaminants. As at yesterday, test results of 40 samples were all satisfactory. The samples included lard and 12 kinds of different food products."

Members of the public who would like to secure a copy of the list of affected products can pay attention to the relevant information issued by the Hong Kong and Taiwanese authorities.

The CFS will continue to announce the latest developments in a timely manner through press releases and by uploading the information onto its website to facilitate the public in keeping track of the development of the incident. The overall investigation conducted by the CFS is still ongoing.

Ends/Monday, September 8, 2014