Prepackaged shrimp noodles sample in breach of food labelling regulation

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (September 3) that a sample of prepackaged shrimp noodles was found to contain sulphur dioxide, a preservative which is allowed to be used in certain foods, but the functional class and name of the additive were not declared on the food label. Members of the public should not consume the affected product. The trade should also stop using or selling the affected product immediately if they possess it.

Product details are as follows:

Place of origin: Hong Kong
Net weight: 454 grams per pack

"When following up on an earlier relevant incident, the CFS collected the above-mentioned product sample from a supermarket in Sham Shui Po for testing. The test result showed that the sample contained sulphur dioxide. Although the sulphur dioxide level is below the maximum permitted level under the Preservatives in Food Regulation (Cap 132BD), the functional class and name of the additive were not declared on the food label of the sample," a CFS spokesman said.

"The CFS has informed the vendor concerned and the manufacturer which produced the shrimp noodles of the irregularities, and instructed the vendor concerned to stop sale and remove from shelves the affected product. The manufacturer concerned has initiated a recall according to the CFS' instructions. Members of the public may call its hotline at 5628 8168 during office hours for enquiries about the recall. Should there be sufficient evidence, prosecution will be initiated." the spokesman added.

Sulphur dioxide is a preservative which can be used in a variety of foods including dried vegetables, dried fruits, pickled vegetables and salted fish products. Sulphur dioxide is water soluble, and 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 after consumption.

The spokesman reminded the food trade that the use of preservatives in food must comply with the Preservatives in Food Regulation (Cap 132BD). Furthermore, the Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) Regulations (Cap 132W) require that for all prepackaged food for sale in Hong Kong containing sulphite in a concentration of 10 ppm or more, the functional class of the sulphite and its name shall be specified in the list of ingredients. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and six months' imprisonment upon conviction.

The CFS will alert the trade, continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action. Investigation is ongoing.
Ends/Friday, September 3, 2021