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Hong Kong Found Few Food Problems in April

Hong Kong’s Center for Food Safety has released the findings of its Food Safety Report for April.

Out of the 3,700 food samples tested, three samples were found to be unsatisfactory and the overall “satisfactory” rate was 99.9 percent.

A spokesman for the Center for Food Safety said that about 2,500 food samples were taken for chemical tests and the remaining 1,200 for microbiological and other tests.

The microbiological tests cover pathogens and the chemical tests detect pesticides, preservatives, metallic contamination, and coloring agents.

The samples included vegetables, fruits and their products; meat, poultry and their products; aquatic products; milk, milk products, and frozen confections; and cereals, grains, and their products.

About 1,500 samples of vegetables, fruits and their products were taken for microbiological and chemical tests. A sample of fresh green peas was found to contain coloring agent Brilliant Blue FCF and tartrazine. Coloring agents are not permitted to be used in fresh vegetables.

Results of other tests–for pesticides, metallic contamination, pathogens, and other substances–were satisfactory.

The Center for Food Safety collected about 300 samples of meat, poultry, and their products for microbiological and chemical tests.  All the samples were satisfactory.

About 200 samples, including fish, shellfish, and their products, were analyzed for micro-organisms, chemicals, and biotoxins. A sample of chilled thread fin was found to contain the non-permitted malachite green at a level of 0.021ppm.

All the results for metallic contamination, biotoxins, preservatives, and pathogens were satisfactory.

The Center for Food Safety took about 600 samples of milk, milk products, and frozen confections for microbiological and chemical analyses–including melamine, coloring agents, and sweeteners.  A sample of mango papaya low fat milk drink was found to contain Bacillus cereus at a level of 1.5 million per mL.

About 100 samples were tested for microorganisms and chemicals.  All the samples were satisfactory.

The Center for Food Safety took about 1,000 samples including dim sum, sushi, sashimi, condiments, and sauces for tests. All the samples passed the tests.

The sample of mango papaya low fat milk drink was taken from a supermarket and the product was manufactured by a licensed local milk factory. The spokesman said, “The [Center for Food Safety] has issued warning letters to the supermarket and the milk factory. It also collected follow-up samples from both premises for testing. The results were satisfactory.”

The spokesman reminded food companies to establish and practice food safety control plans for milk and dairy product manufacturing such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point). Retailers and consumers should also store milk and milk products according to the instructions on the labels.

On the level of malachite green found in the chilled thread fin sample, and the two coloring agents found in the fresh green pea sample, which are of low toxicity, the spokesman said normal consumption should not pose significant health effects.

He urged the food trade to comply with legal requirements and follow good manufacturing practices.

Regarding the unsatisfactory samples, the Center for Food Safety has taken follow-up action, including asking the concerned vendors to stop selling and dispose of the affected food, taking further samples and issuing warning letters.

Prosecution will be taken if there is sufficient evidence.

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