6th June 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has issued a recall for prepackaged preserved mustard greens after a routine test found the presence of sulphur dioxide, an additive commonly used as a preservative in certain foods. While sulphur dioxide is allowed to be used in food products, the functional class and the name of the additive were not declared on the label of the affected batch.
The product in question is the Wing Ley Hao Dried Vegetable VEGETAL CONFITS, with a net weight of 454 grams and a use-by date of September 17, 2024. The distributor, Wing Lee Ho Company Limited, has been instructed to stop sales and remove the affected batch from shelves. Members of the public are advised not to consume the product and to contact the distributor’s hotline at 2540 4611 during office hours for enquiries about the recall.
Although the sulphur dioxide level in the sample is below the maximum permitted level under the Preservatives in Food Regulation (Cap. 132BD), the CFS spokesman emphasized that the functional class and the name of the additive must be declared on the label of the product. The CFS collected the sample from a retail outlet in Wan Chai for testing under its routine Food Surveillance Programme.
Sulphur dioxide is a commonly used preservative in dried vegetables, dried fruits, pickled vegetables, and salted fish products. While most of it can be removed through washing and cooking, susceptible individuals who are allergic to this preservative may experience breathing difficulties, headaches, and nausea after consumption.
The use of preservatives in food must comply with the Preservatives in Food Regulation (Cap. 132BD), and prepackaged food must be legibly marked or labelled with a list of ingredients, according to the Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) Regulations (Cap. 132W). For prepackaged food for sale in Hong Kong containing sulphite in a concentration of 10 parts per million or more, the functional class of the sulphite and its name must be specified in the list of ingredients. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and six months’ imprisonment upon conviction.
The CFS will continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action while alerting the trade. An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the irregularity. The spokesman reminded the food trade to comply with the regulations and ensure that all preservatives and additives used in food products are properly declared on the label.