Raw oyster sample found to contain cadmium over legal limit again

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) announced today (December 24) that, further to the detection of cadmium, a heavy metal, in a raw oyster sample earlier, another raw oyster sample taken from the same food factory was again found to contain cadmium exceeding the legal limit.

A spokesman for the CFS said, "The CFS, following up on an unsatisfactory raw oyster sample from a licensed food factory named Ocean Party at Kailey Industrial Centre, 12 Fung Yip Street, Chai Wan, took another raw oyster sample from the premises for testing. Results showed that the sample contained cadmium at a level of 3.4 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the legal limit of 2 ppm."

According to the Food Adulteration (Metallic Contamination) Regulations (Cap 132V), any person who sells food with metallic contamination above the legal limit of the food will be prosecuted and is liable upon conviction to a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.

"Occasional consumption of oysters with cadmium at the detected level will not cause adverse health effects to consumers. However, adverse impact on the kidneys and bones cannot be ruled out over long term consumption," the spokesman said.

The CFS will inform the person-in-charge of the food factory of the test result and instruct him to stop sale of the affected oysters. The CFS will also alert the trade of the incident and continue to follow up on the case.

The spokesman said that the raw oyster sample detected with excessive cadmium this time and the unsatisfactory sample taken from the same premises earlier were both harvested from Walvis Bay Harbour in Namibia. Upon confirmation of the source of the concerned food, the CFS has suspended import of oysters from Walvis Bay Harbour since yesterday (December 23) and continued surveillance of oysters imported from Namibia at retail level. The CFS has notified the Namibian authorities of the test results and its decisions. Unless the CFS is satisfied with investigation and control measures taken by the Namibian authorities, the relevant import restriction will not be lifted.

He reminded the public again that due to their specific growing nature, oysters can be easily contaminated by pathogens and chemical contaminants, and pose potential risks. Members of the public are advised to buy raw oysters from reliable licensed/permitted food premises with an endorsement from the FEHD to sell raw oysters. They should check with the shop whether the oysters are accompanied by health certificates issued by competent authorities from their places of origin stating that the oysters are suitable for consumption in the uncooked state, before placing orders; and keep raw oysters at four degrees Celsius or below during transportation and storage. Do not eat oysters raw if they are intended for consumption only after cooking. Susceptible groups, such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems or liver diseases, should avoid eating raw oysters.

Ends/Wednesday, December 24, 2014