Prepackaged date sample in breach of food labelling regulation

Issue Date 11.1.2022
Source of Information

Routine Food Surveillance Programme

Food Product

Prepackaged date samples

Product Name and Description

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: November 15, 2022

Reason For Issuing Alert
  • The CFS collected the above-mentioned sample from a shop in Mong Kok for testing when following up on an earlier relevant incident. 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 of the sample.
  • 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 vendor concerned of the irregularities and instructed it to stop sale and remove from shelves the affected batch of the product.
  • The distributor concerned has initiated a recall 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 distributor's hotline at 2300 1800 during office hours for enquiries about the recall.

Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department