CFS announces food safety report for December 2022 and summary of food surveillance programme for 2022

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (January 31) released the findings of its food safety report for December 2022. The results of about 5,100 food samples tested were found to be satisfactory except for 14 unsatisfactory samples which were announced earlier. The overall satisfactory rate was 99.7 per cent.

A CFS spokesman said about 900 food samples were collected for microbiological tests, and about 4,200 samples were taken for chemical and radiation level tests.

The microbiological tests covered pathogens and hygiene indicators; the chemical tests included testing for pesticides, preservatives, metallic contaminants, colouring matters, veterinary drug residues and others; and the radiation level tests included testing for radioactive caesium and iodine in samples collected from imported food from different regions.

The samples comprised about 1,800 samples of vegetables and fruit and their products; about 300 samples of cereals, grains and their products; about 500 samples of meat and poultry and their products; about 600 samples of milk, milk products and frozen confections; about 600 samples of aquatic and related products; and about 1,300 samples of other food commodities (including beverages, bakery products and snacks).

The 14 unsatisfactory samples comprised a banana sample, a papaya sample and a prepackaged tea leaves sample detected with pesticide residue exceeding the legal limit; a prepackaged sweetened mandarin sample and a prepackaged preserved fruit sample detected with sulphur dioxide at a level exceeding the legal limit and in breach of the food labelling regulations; a prepackaged date sample detected with sulphur dioxide at a level exceeding the legal limit; a prepackaged bamboo shoot sample and a prepackaged dried shrimp sample in breach of the food labelling regulations; a taro sample and a pear sample detected with metallic contaminants exceeding the legal limit; a fresh beef sample found to contain sulphur dioxide; a grass carp sample found with malachite green; a prepackaged frozen shrimp sample found to contain nitrofuran metabolite; and a prepackaged melon seed sample detected with mineral oil exceeding the legal limit.

The CFS has taken follow-up actions on the above-mentioned 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.

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.

Summary of food surveillance programme for 2022

Concluding the food surveillance programme for 2022, the spokesman said that apart from routine food surveillance, the CFS also conducted a number of targeted, seasonal and popular food surveillance projects.

"About 63,800 samples were tested by the CFS last year. The overall satisfactory rate was 99.8 per cent, which was comparable to the results in recent years. This indicates that food safety has been maintained at a high standard in Hong Kong," he said.

"The exceedances or breaches for most of the unsatisfactory samples were not serious and would not pose adverse health effects to the general public. For individual food items with unsatisfactory test results, the CFS has taken prompt and effective risk management actions to safeguard public health," he said.

He added that in planning the food surveillance programme, the CFS will take into consideration a number of factors such as the food consumption level and the risk of the food concerned in deciding on the number of samples to be tested and the frequency of sampling as well as the testing parameters. In addition, the CFS will also suitably adjust its food surveillance programme and strengthen relevant testing with regard to local and overseas food incidents as well as past surveillance data, in particular breaches of regulatory requirements that occurred more frequently, so as to safeguard food safety in Hong Kong.

Ends/Tuesday, January 31, 2023