80% of cereal samples for infants and young children found to contain trace amounts of heavy metal cadmium by Consumer Council


18th October 201 – (Hong Kong) The Consumer Council selected 17 cereals for infants and young children from the market for testing and concluded that more than 80% of the samples were found to contain trace amounts of heavy metal cadmium, while a few samples were found to contain trace amounts of inorganic arsenic, aflatoxin, pesticide residues, etc.The contents of harmful substances are lower than the upper limit of safety standards in many regions. Among them, the “Earth’s Best Organic Rice Cereal” from Portugal contains 0.08 mg per kg of carcinogenic inorganic arsenic, commonly known as “arsenic”, but the amount is not high.

In the nutrient content test, it was found that the iron and calcium contents of many samples were higher than those indicated on the packaging, and the detected amounts of individual samples were lower than the indicated values. In view of the large difference in the price of the test samples, the retail price per 100g ranges from 22 to 94.4 Hong Kong dollars. When purchasing this type of food, in addition to safety, consumers can also consider the accuracy and price of the nutrition label information to choose the right food for babies.

In terms of heavy metal content, the Consumer Council tested the content of cadmium, inorganic arsenic, lead and mercury in each sample. The test referred to the relevant regulations or standards on cereals for infants and young children in the Mainland, the European Union and the United States to assess the heavy metal levels of the samples. It was found that no lead and mercury were detected in all the samples, but the heavy metal cadmium was detected in 14 samples, with the content ranging from 0.0035 mg to 0.0230 mg per kilogram.

The Consumer Council tested whether the samples contained genotoxic and carcinogenic aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, and G2 and other four mycotoxins, and found that the two samples contained the most common aflatoxin B1 in food. They were “Töpfer” organic rice cereal from Germany and “Bellamy’s Organic” Organic Milk & Vanilla Baby Rice from Australia. The contents are 0.02 micrograms and 0.03 micrograms per kilogram respectively, which are lower than the upcoming regulations in Hong Kong and the European Union Upper limit. The Consumer Council tested the iron, calcium, and vitamin A and D content of the samples. One of them, the “Earth’s Best Organic Rice Cereal” from Portugal, advertises iron-fortified organic on the label. In the rice cereal sample, the detected iron content was about 14.4% lower than the label value, which was not ideal, and the detected calcium content was also about 4.8% lower than the label value.

According to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, according to the Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) Regulations (Chapter 132W), the nutrition label of prepackaged foods for infants and young children must include the energy value and the content value of six nutrients.