Prepackaged dried mushroom sample in breach of food labelling regulation

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (December 30) that a sample of prepackaged dried mushroom was found to contain sulphur dioxide, a preservative which is allowed to be used in certain foods, but the name of the additive was not declared on the food label. Members of the public should not consume the affected batches of the product. The trade should also stop using or selling the affected batches of the product immediately if they possess it.
Product details are as follows:
Product name: (Not available in English)
Brand: (Not available in English)
Place of origin: China
Net weight: 605 grams
Distributor: (Not available in English)
Best-before date: October 15, 2022
"When following up on an earlier relevant incident, the CFS collected the above-mentioned dried mushroom from a grocery store in Tung Chung 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 name of the additive was not declared on the food label," a CFS spokesman said.
"The CFS has informed the vendor concerned of the irregularities, and instructed the vendor to stop sale and remove from shelves the affected batches of the product. The distributor has initiated a recall according to the CFS' instructions. Members of the public may call its hotline at 2300 1800 during office hours for enquiries about the recall. Prosecution will be instituted should there be sufficient evidence," 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, headaches 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 parts per million 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. An investigation is ongoing.
Ends/Thursday, December 30, 2021