Nitrofurans Residues Found in Marine Fish


In view of recent public concern about live fish, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has recently conducted a survey on marine fish in the local wholesale and retail markets for analysis of veterinary drug residues.

Analysis Results and Actions Taken by the CFS

A total of 20 samples consisting of a variety of marine fishes were examined; the results were available today (on 7 December 2006). Test results for most of the fish samples were satisfactory. All the 20 samples were free from malachite green. Nitrofurans were present in three samples (including pompano, flowery grouper and tiger grouper).

In response to the findings, the CFS has immediately initiated an investigation and a source-tracing exercise. The wholesaler and retailer concerned have suspended the sale of the respective affected marine fishes. The CFS would continue to monitor the situation closely to protect public health.

What are Nitrofurans?

Nitrofurans are a family of antimicrobial agents which can be used as veterinary drugs. The main concern of nitrofurans in food is that a type of nitrofurans may cause cancer in experimental animals. However, for the type of nitrofurans detected in this survey, there is inadequate evidence that it can cause cancer in humans.

Based on the levels of nitrofurans residues found in the affected marine fish samples, risk assessment suggested that the risk to health is low upon usual consumption of the fish.

Advice to Consumers

  1. Based on the levels of nitrofurans residues detected, risk to health is low upon usual consumption of the fish. There is no cause for undue alarm.
  2. The public is advised to maintain a balanced diet to avoid excessive exposure to contaminants from a small range of food.

Further information

Further information about past incidents regarding nitrofurans residues found in fish can be obtained from the following webpages: