CFS announces food safety report for October

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (November 30) released the findings of its food safety report for last month. The results of about 13 800 food samples were found to be satisfactory except for 13 unsatisfactory samples. The overall satisfactory rate was 99.9 per cent.

A CFS spokesman said about 1 500 food samples were collected for microbiological tests, some 4 500 samples were taken for chemical tests and the remaining 7 800 (including about 7 300 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 3 700 samples of vegetables and fruit and their products; 1 000 samples of meat and poultry and their products; 1 800 samples of aquatic and related products; 1 100 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 13 unsatisfactory samples comprised five milk samples detected with total bacterial counts exceeding the legal limit; two crab samples and a preserved mustard sample detected with cadmium exceeding the legal limits; a bottled fruit juice sample and a dried mango sample found to contain undeclared preservatives; a Chinese lettuce sample detected with pesticide residue at a level exceeding the legal limit; a hairy crab sample found to contain dioxins and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls at a level exceeding the action level adopted by the CFS; and a laksa sample detected with excessive Clostridium perfringens, a pathogen.

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 October 31 this year, the CFS had taken over 123 800 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/Thursday, November 30, 2017