A local organization published an investigation report recently which alleged that a nitrofurans metabolite, was detected in 3 catfish samples collected at local supermarkets. According to the information provided by the organization concerned, the 3 samples were from the same supplier and they were found to contain a metabolite of nitrofurazone (SEM) , where nitrofurazone is a kind of nitrofuran.

According to the literatures, SEM could be found in various food of animal and non-animal origin. If low level of SEM is detected in the food sample, it could not arrive at the conclusion that the food has been contaminated by nitrofurans.

To be prudence, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has collected 10 catfish samples imported from Vietnam, including a catfish sample from the supplier providing the samples to the above local organization, to test for nitrofurans metabolites. Testing parameters included SEM, 3-amino-2-oxazolidinone (AOZ) and 3-amino-5-morpholinomethyl-2-oxazolidinone (AMOZ). No nitrofurans metabolites were detected in all the samples.

Nitrofurans is a family of antimicrobial agents formerly used as veterinary drugs. The main concern of nitrofurans in food is that some nitrofurans may cause cancer in experimental animals. However, there is inadequate evidence that it can cause cancer in humans.

Through the Food Surveillance Programme, CFS will continue to monitor the level of nitrofurans metabolites in different food on sale, to ensure its compliance with the legal requirements and fitness for human consumption.