Prepackaged black cod sample detected with methylmercury exceeding legal limit

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7th July 2022 – (Hong Kong)   The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today announced that a prepackaged black cod sample was found to contain a metal contaminant, methylmercury, at a level exceeding the legal limit. The CFS is following up on the case. Members of the public should not consume the affected batches of the product. The trade should also stop using or selling the affected batches of the product immediately if they possess them.

Product details are as follows:

Product name: (Not available in English)
Packer: (Not available in English)
Use-by date: from 7th February to 7th July, 2023

A spokesman for the CFS said, “The CFS collected the above-mentioned sample from a shop at North Kwai Chung Market for testing under its routine Food Surveillance Programme. The test result showed that the sample contained methylmercury at a level of 1.2 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the legal limit of 0.5 ppm.”

The spokesman said that the CFS has informed the vendor concerned of the irregularity and instructed it to stop selling and remove from shelves the affected batches of the product. The packer concerned has initiated a recall according to the CFS’s instructions. Members of the public may call the packer’s hotline at 2487 0560 during office hours for enquiries about the recall. The CFS is also tracing the source and distribution of the product concerned.

 “Methylmercury is the major form of mercury in fish. At high levels, mercury can affect foetal brain development, and affect vision, hearing, muscle co-ordination and memory in adults. Furthermore, as some international organisations such as the World Health Organization have pointed out, consuming predatory fish species is the main source of mercury intake for human beings. The report of the CFS’s Total Diet Study has also pointed out that large fish or predatory fish species may contain high mercury levels (for example, tuna, alfonsino, shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy and king mackerel). Hence, groups particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of mercury, such as pregnant women, women planning pregnancy and young children, should opt for fish that are smaller in size for consumption and avoid consumption of the aforementioned types of fish to minimise excessive exposure to metal contaminants in food,” he added.

 According to the Food Adulteration (Metallic Contamination) Regulations (Cap. 132V), any person who sells food with metallic contamination above the legal limit may be prosecuted and is liable upon conviction to a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.

The CFS will alert the trade, continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action. An investigation is ongoing.

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