In 5,000 tests of food samples tested during January, the Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety found only nine problems.

It previously reported on seven samples that were contaminated–chili pepper, bamboo fungus (2), Chinese sausage, half-shelled scallops, dried fish maw, and a New Year’s pudding—and now it has released its monthly report that details the testing and two other problems.

One sample of fresh beef returned a result of 17 parts per million (PPM) of Sulphur dioxide, which Hong Kong does not permit in any fresh meat product, including those that are chilled or frozen.

The chemical compound is permitted in picked fruits and juices, according to the Centre.  It does not pose a significant health effect on consumers.

A sample of tuna tartare was positive for the Salmonella pathogen, which can result in abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.

The other 99.8 percent of the 5,000 foods tested by the Centre in January came back with satisfactory results.  Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department tests foods at the import, wholesale, and retail levels with both chemical and microbiological procedures.

About 100 food samples undergo radioactive analysis.

In the fruits and vegetables category, the Centre tested 2,100 samples with a 99.9 percent satisfactory rate.  Problems were found with one sample of chili pepper and two samples of bamboo fungus.

About 300 meat and poultry were tested with the only problems being the sample that contained Sulphur dioxide and a coloring issue with Chinese sausage.

Bad samples of half-shelled scallop and dried fish maw were the only two problems in 400 tests of aquatic products during January, the Centre reported.

About 500 milk and milk product samples, and 100 cereal and grain products all came back with satisfactory results in both microbiological and chemical testing, except for one sample of New Year’s pudding.

The Centre also tested about 1,600 samples of other food commodities, including mixed dishes, dim sum, beverages, sushi and sashimi, sugar and sweets, condiments and sauces, snacks, and eggs and egg products.  It was in those tests that Salmonella was found in the tuna tartare.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department used the report to remind the food industry that selling meat-containing preservatives in Hong Kong is illegal and can result in a fine of up to $50,000 and six months imprisonment.  It plans to use a system of “demerit points” that will result in loss of licenses and exclusion from public markets for repeat offenders.

Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety conducts routine, targeted and seasonal food surveillance programs.