Tissue samples from local pigs detected with veterinary drug residues exceeding the legal limit

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (December 5) announced that under its routine surveillance programme, two tissue samples (pig kidney and pig liver) from local pigs were detected with veterinary drug residues exceeding the legal limit. The CFS is following up on the case. 

These two pig kidney and pig liver samples came from two different local pig farms. The test results showed that they contained sulfonamides at levels of 2,700 μg per kg and 260 μg per kg respectively.  Sulfonamides are veterinary drugs, which can be appropriately used at farms generally as a treatment for sick pigs. Yet under the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Chemical Residues) Regulation (Cap. 139N), sulfonamides are one of the restricted chemicals used in food animals. The level of sulfonamides in pig tissues cannot exceed 100 μg per kg. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $100,000 upon conviction. 

Although the two samples were detected with veterinary drug residue levels 27 times and 2.6 times of the legal maximum residue limit (100 μg per kg) respectively, a 60 kg body weight adult needs to consume 1.1 kg of the above mentioned pig kidney sample or 11.5 kg of the above mentioned pig liver sample, in order to exceed the health-based guidance value. Therefore, upon normal consumption, adverse health effects posed to consumers are unlikely. CFS conducts routine surveillance on food animals entering the slaughterhouses in Hong Kong for veterinary drug residues. Up to October this year, about 28,000 samples were tested, and none of these samples were detected with values exceeding the legal limits. 

The Government will enhance inspection at the two farms, collect samples from the pigs, and continue to follow up on the case at the farms. The investigation is ongoing.