CFS announces food safety report for May

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (June 30) released the findings of its food safety report for last month. The results of about 11 600 food samples tested were found to be satisfactory except for seven unsatisfactory samples which were announced earlier. The overall satisfactory rate was 99.9 per cent.

A CFS spokesman said about 1 100 food samples were collected for microbiological tests, some 3 000 samples were taken for chemical tests and the remaining 7 500 (including about 7 200 taken from food imported from Japan) were collected to test radiation levels.

The microbiological tests covered pathogens and hygienic indicators, while the chemical tests aimed at detecting pesticides, preservatives, metallic contaminants, colouring matters, veterinary drug residues and others.

The samples comprised about 2 300 samples of vegetables and fruit and their products; 700 samples of meat and poultry and their products; 1 700 samples of aquatic and related products; 700 samples of milk, milk products and frozen confections; 900 samples of cereals, grains and their products; and 5 300 samples of other food commodities (including beverages, bakery products and snacks).

The seven unsatisfactory samples comprised a fresh asparagus sample and a dried lily bulb sample detected with cadmium, a metallic contaminant, at levels exceeding the legal limit; two bottled oyster sauce samples detected with propyl para-hydroxybenzoate, a preservative not permitted in food; a gan shui rice dumpling sample found to contain boric acid, a preservative not permitted in food; a prepackaged coconut milk powder sample found to contain a food allergen, milk, undeclared on the food label; and a chilled tiger grouper sample found to contain a trace amount of nitrofuran metabolite.

The CFS has taken follow-up action on the unsatisfactory samples including informing the vendors concerned of the test results, instructing them to stop selling the affected food items and tracing the sources of the food items in question.

People who suffer from a food allergy (such as milk) may be adversely affected upon consumption of food with allergen. Therefore, all prepackaged food is required to indicate the presence of the eight allergens (including milk) according to the requirements of the law. The trade should ensure that information on the label is accurate and complies with the local regulation on labelling of food allergens.

Nitrofurans are a family of chemical compounds which have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities. Although there is evidence suggesting that nitrofurans might cause cancer in animals, there is yet sufficient data confirming that it can cause cancer in humans. JECFA (Joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives) considered that competent authorities should prevent residues of nitrofurans in food. Nitrofurans have been prohibited for use in food-producing animals in many countries.

The spokesman reminded the food trade to ensure that food is fit for human consumption and meets legal requirements. Consumers should patronise reliable shops when buying food and maintain a balanced diet to minimise food risks.

Ends/Friday, June 30, 2017