Two fresh beef samples found to contain sulphur dioxide
The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (April 15) that two fresh beef samples were found to contain sulphur dioxide, a preservative which is not permitted to be used in fresh meat. The CFS is following up on the cases.
A spokesman for the CFS said, "The CFS took the above-mentioned fresh beef samples from two stalls in Quarry Bay Market and Lai Wan Market for testing under its routine Food Surveillance Programme. The test results showed that the samples contained sulphur dioxide at respective levels of 145 parts per million (ppm) and 1,020 ppm."
According to the Preservatives in Food Regulation (Cap 132BD), it is an offence to add sulphur dioxide to fresh or chilled meat. The maximum penalty is a $50,000 fine and six months' imprisonment.
Sulphur dioxide is a commonly used preservative in a variety of foods including dried fruits, pickled vegetables and meat products such as sausages and grilled burgers, but under the Regulation it is not permitted in fresh or chilled meat. Nonetheless, individual meat traders have been found illegally using sulphur dioxide to make meat look fresher. This preservative is of low toxicity. As it is water soluble, most of it can be removed through washing and cooking. However, susceptible individuals who are allergic to this preservative may experience breathing difficulties, headache and nausea.
The spokesman reminded the food trade to comply with the law and not to sell fresh or chilled meat adulterated with sulphur dioxide. Members of the public should purchase meat from reliable market stalls or fresh provision shops. They should avoid buying or consuming meat which is unnaturally red and maintain a balanced diet to avoid malnutrition or excessive exposure to chemicals from a small range of food items.
The CFS will continue to follow up on the cases and take appropriate action. Investigation is ongoing.
Ends/Monday, April 15, 2019