CFS announces food safety report for September

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (October 31) released the findings of its food safety report for last month. The results of about 14 400 food samples were found to be satisfactory except for 14 unsatisfactory samples. The overall satisfactory rate was 99.9 per cent.

A CFS spokesman said about 1 800 food samples were collected for microbiological tests, some 4 500 samples were taken for chemical tests and the remaining 8 100 (including about 7 800 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 4 300 samples of vegetables and fruit and their products; 800 samples of meat and poultry and their products; 1 600 samples of aquatic and related products; 1 100 samples of milk, milk products and frozen confections; 800 samples of cereals, grains and their products; and 5 800 samples of other food commodities (including beverages, bakery products and snacks).

The 14 unsatisfactory samples comprised eight ice-cream samples and two milk samples detected with counts of hygienic indicator organisms exceeding the legal limits; two crab samples detected with cadmium exceeding the legal limit; a durian sample found to contain excessive pesticide residue; and a dried mango sample found to contain a preservative, sulphur dioxide, undeclared.

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.

Since the Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap 132CM) came into effect on August 1, 2014, as of September 30 this year, the CFS had taken over 120 500 food samples at import, wholesale and retail levels for testing for pesticide residues. The overall unsatisfactory rate is less than 0.2 per cent.

The spokesman added that excessive pesticide residues in food may arise from the trade not observing Good Agricultural Practice, e.g. using excessive pesticides and/or not allowing sufficient time for pesticides to decompose before harvesting. The maximum residue limits (MRLs) of pesticide residues in food set in the Regulation are not safety indicators. They are the maximum concentrations of pesticide residues to be permitted in a food commodity under Good Agricultural Practice when applying pesticides. In this connection, consumption of food with pesticide residues higher than the MRLs will not necessarily lead to any adverse health effects.

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/Tuesday, October 31, 2017