Two prepackaged date samples in breach of food labelling regulation

Issue Date 15.12.2021
Source of Information

Routine Food Surveillance Programme

Food Product

Prepackaged date samples

Product Name and Description

Sample (1)
Product name: Chinese Date
Brand: Green dot dot
Place of origin: China
Net weight: 350 grams
Distributor: Organic Gardens International Limited (recall hotline: 3181 4488)

Sample (2)
Product name: (Not available in English)
Brand: (Not available in English)
Place of origin: China
Net weight: 605g
Distributor: (Not available in English) (recall hotline: 2300 1800)
Best-before date: October 31, 2022

Reason For Issuing Alert
  • The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) collected sample (1) from a department store in Hung Hom for testing when following up on an earlier relevant incident, and collected sample (2) from an online shop for testing under its routine Food Surveillance Programme. The test results showed that both samples contained sulphur dioxide. Although the sulphur dioxide levels are 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 labels of the samples.
  • 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 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.
Action Taken by the Centre for Food Safety
  • The CFS has informed the vendors concerned of the irregularities, and instructed them to stop sale and remove from shelves the affected product of sample (1) and the affected batch of the product of sample (2) respectively.
  • The above-mentioned distributors have initiated recalls according to the CFS' instructions. Prosecution will be instituted should there be sufficient evidence.

Advice to the Trade

Stop using or selling the product concerned immediately if they possess it.

Advice to Consumers

People who are allergic to sulphur dioxide should not to consume the affected product if they have bought any.

Further Information

The CFS press release

Members of the public may call the respective hotlines above during office hours for enquiries about the recall.

Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department