A consumer complaint led to the July 20 discovery of liquid mercury in a can of Greatwall brand Chopped Pork and Ham by the Center for Food Safety in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong distributor of the canned luncheon meat recalled 1,000 cartons of the product (48,000 cans).  The Center for Food Safety “has informed the relevant Mainland (China) authority of the finding.”   It also ordered Hong Kong retailers to stop selling the product.

The droplets of liquid mercury found inside one of the cans weighed 0.4 grams.

The Center for Food Safety collected 13 additional samples of the canned lunchmeat from different batches for more tests.  No additional mercury was found, according to preliminary findings.  Detailed results are pending.

The center asked Hong Kong consumers to turn in any cans found to have foreign materials inside, and were also urged not to eat any more of product that may be in their homes.

According to a Center for Food Safety spokesman, liquid mercury is poorly absorbed in the digestive tract and significant health concern after its ingestion is unlikely.

“Liquid mercury is not involved in the manufacturing process of the concerned canned product,” the spokesman said.

The incident remains under investigation, and the Center for Food Safety will take appropriate follow-up actions.