Durian and loofah samples detected with pesticide residue exceeding legal limit

Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (September 18) that two durian samples and a loofah sample were detected with pesticide residues at levels exceeding the legal limit. The CFS is following up on the cases.

A spokesman said, "Subsequent to the detection of excessive pesticide residues in two durian samples imported from Thailand earlier this week, the CFS has been following up on the incident closely and stepping up sample testing. Two durian samples were further collected at a stall at Kowloon Wholesale Fruit Market for testing.

Test results showed that the two samples contained ethephon at levels of 3.2 parts per million (ppm) and 3.7 ppm, i.e. 1.6 times and 1.85 times the maximum residue limit (2 ppm) respectively. The CFS has marked and sealed the affected Thai durians and is following up on the incident with the Thailand authorities."

Meanwhile, the CFS collected a loofah sample at the import level for testing under its regular Food Surveillance Programme.

The test result showed that the sample contained chlorpyrifos at a level of 0.1 ppm, i.e. two times the maximum residue limit (0.05 ppm).

"Based on the levels of pesticide residues detected in the three samples, adverse health effects will not be caused under normal consumption," the spokesman said.

The spokesman said that, generally speaking, removing the shells of hard-shelled fruits upon consumption can reduce the intake of pesticide residues. To reduce pesticide residues in vegetables, members of the public can rinse vegetables several times under running water, then soak them in water for one hour, or blanch them in boiling water for one minute and discard the water.

To further reduce the intake of pesticide residues, the outer leaves or peel of the vegetables can also be removed as appropriate.

Any person who imports, manufactures or sells any food not in compliance with the requirements of the Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap 132CM) concerning pesticide residues commits an offence and is liable to a maximum fine of $50 000 and to imprisonment for six months upon conviction.

Since the regulation came into effect on August 1 last year, the CFS has taken over 34 900 samples at import, wholesale and retail levels for testing for pesticide residues and a total of 114 vegetable and fruit samples (including the unsatisfactory samples announced today) have been detected as having excessive pesticide residues. The overall unsatisfactory rate is less than 0.4 per cent.

The CFS will continue to follow up on the unsatisfactory samples, including instructing the vendor concerned to stop the sale of the affected products. Should there be sufficient evidence, prosecution will be considered.

The CFS will also trace the sources and distribution of the food in question and step up sample testing to safeguard public health. Investigation is ongoing.

Published on: 2015-09-18

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