Bottled malt vinegar sample in breach of food labelling regulation

Issue Date 6.5.2024
Source of Information

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS)

Food Product

Bottled malt vinegar

Product Name and Description

Product name: Malt VINEGAR
Brand: SARSON's
Place of origin: United Kingdom
Volume: 568 millilitre
Best-before date: December 31, 2025
Distributor: The Dairy Farm Company Limited

Reason For Issuing Alert
  • The CFS collected the above-mentioned sample from a supermarket in Ho Man Tin for testing under its routine Food Surveillance Programme. 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 functional class and the name of the additive were 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 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 distributor concerned of the irregularity 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's instructions.
  • The CFS will alert the trade, continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action. The investigation is ongoing.
Advice to the Trade

Stop using or selling the affected batch of the product immediately if they possess it.

Advice to Consumers

Members of the public should not consume the affected batch of the product. 

Further Information

The CFS press release

Members of the public may call its hotline at 2299 3966 during office hours for enquiries about the recall.

Photo for reference only:

Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department