Public warned against consuming prepacked candied winter melon containing sulphur dioxide

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department continues to monitor the safety of Lunar New Year (LNY) food. Subsequent to finding a candied water chestnut sample containing sulphur dioxide yesterday (January 29), the CFS announced today (January 30) that a kind of prepacked candied winter melon was also detected to contain the preservative.

A spokesman for the CFS today urged people with a sulphur dioxide allergy to refrain from consuming the product.

The spokesman also urged the trade to stop selling the product immediately.

Product details are as follows (product name in Chinese only):

Retailer: Vanguard
Packer: (available in Chinese only)
Weight: 180 grammes
Use by date: July 20, 2014

"The CFS collected further LNY food samples from the market for tests. The sample collected from the above-mentioned retail outlet was found containing the preservative, sulphur dioxide, at a level of 640 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the legal limit of 500 ppm. The food is unlikely to pose adverse health effect upon normal consumption. But people who are allergic to sulphur dioxide may experience symptoms like breathing difficulty, headache and nausea," the spokesman said.

He said a warning letter had been issued to the retailer and packer concerned. CFS staff have conducted checks on the concerned retailer and found that sale of the product has been stopped.

He advised consumers who bought the product with the above mentioned "use by date" and are allergic to sulphur dioxide to stop eating it. People should seek medical treatment if they feel unwell after eating the food.

The CFS will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate follow-up action. No reports of people feeling unwell after consumption of the affected product or complaints about it have so far been received.

Ends/Thursday, January 30, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:07