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Guangdong, Hong Kong on Malachite Green Alert

Yesterday, authorities in Hong Kong and Guangdong Province said they were stepping up checks for malachite green in freshwater food products, the day Hong Kong officials met with their mainland counterparts in Beijing to discuss imports that had been found to contain the carcinogen.


Huang Weiming, deputy director of Guangdong’s exit-entry quarantine and inspection administration, said the province has recalled live and roasted eels and cut exports of some freshwater produce to Hong Kong and Macao, though he would not reveal any figures.


Losses caused by the recall are still being calculated, but Huang said he was confident large-scale exports would quickly resume.


A province-wide inspection of producers would begin soon, Huang said, and of the 30 already inspected none had tested positive for malachite green.


The inspection and quarantine bureau in Shenzhen city began sampling every batch of freshwater products bound for Hong Kong on Sunday, at the request of the special administrative region’s government, and had tested all registered producers.


Freshwater imports from the mainland must carry proof they are free of malachite green, Hong Kong Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food York Chow said on Monday, adding that random checks at local wholesale fish markets were being conducted.


Donald Tsang, chief executive of Hong Kong, said yesterday a ban would not be imposed on all freshwater products and that his government was balancing food safety concerns with consumer choice and traders' livelihoods.


Deputy Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Eddy Chan and Food and Environmental Hygiene Department Director Gregory Leung met with officials from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and Ministry of Agriculture in the capital.


They discussed strategies to improve food safety notification mechanisms and the safety of aquatic produce exported to Hong Kong.


Malachite green (also called aniline green) is used illegally to treat parasites, fungal infections, and bacterial infections in fish and fish eggs, and can cause cancer and congenital abnormalities.


(China Daily,Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2005)

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