Hong Kong gets 30 million visitors a year, and they remain in the city for an average of 3.2 nights. Most of those visitors try Chinese regional cuisines sometime during their visit.
Because the food is so popular, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) opted to turn its surveillance on the regional cuisines.
“The objective is to assess the safety of regional cuisines commonly served in Hong Kong and consumed by the public,” a spokesman for the Chinese agency said. In the first phase of the study, Chiu Chow, Sichuan, Hunan, and Yunnan food was subjected to testing.
CFS collected 300 food samples from more than 140 retailers for microbiological and chemical tests. Two of the samples were contaminated. One sample, chicken with chili, was contaminated with Salmonella and a second, a sample of Sichuan mala mandarin fish, contained an animal drug residue.
A level of 0.0017 parts per million (PPM) of metabolite of nitrofuran (AOZ) was found in the fish. “The detected level of AOZ was low and adverse effects upon normal consumption were unlikely,” the spokesman said.
CFS is taking follow-up actions, asking vendors to stop selling and dispose of the contaminated foods, tracing them to the source, issuing warning letters and taking additional samples. If sufficient evidence is collected, prosecution is also a possibility.
The samples of Chinese regional cuisines included:
-Appetizers, including marinated egg, Chiu Chow pickled mustard, and Sichuan mala jellyfish.
-Soups, such as pig stomach pepper soup, tofu soup with cured meat, and Yunnan steam pot chicken with radix pseudo ginseng.
-Main dishes, like fried oyster cake, marinated goose, fried pig intestine stuffed with glutinous rice, Sichuan mala mandarin fish, chicken with chili, Sichuan mala duck blood, and porcino with Yannan ham.
-Congee, pasta, and noodles, including Chiu Chow fried noodles with sugar and vinegar, Yunnan rice noodles, and Sichuan mala clear noodles.
-Desserts, such as Chiu Chow fried glutinous dumplings, spring onion pancake, root starch jelly, and mung bean cake.
-Sauces, like marinade sauce, Chiu Chow chili sauce, and Sichuan mala sauce.
CFS plans a second stage to its study to include regional cuisines like Beijing and Shanghai foods. Those findings will be ready later in the year.
CFS surveillance includes both microbiological and chemical tests. It tests for all major foodborne pathogens in addition to coloring, pesticides, animal drug residue, and metallic contamination.
CFS urged both residents and visitors to use licensed retailers and restaurants.