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HK Private Labs to Help Test Fish

Hong Kong Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food York Chow said Friday that the Government Laboratory will share its malachite green testing technology with private labs so they can help traders test fish products.

Chow told legislators Friday that more than 30 tons of freshwater fish from the Chinese mainland, which have been proven safe, are ready for delivery to Hong Kong, according to a government press release on Friday.

Noting it is important to restore consumer confidence in fish products, he said the government will conduct checks at Man Kam To and other wholesale fish markets.

He said it will take time for Chinese mainland authorities to settle the issues related to registered fish farms and the government also needs time to send staff to inspect listed farms.

Although traders can buy fish from places other than the registered Chinese mainland fish farms, they should produce certificates to prove their products are safe.

Urging the trade to keep proper records of fish sources and distribution points, Chow said the move will help the government conduct follow-up action when problems arise.

Local traders have also been asked to provide a list of their Chinese mainland partners so the government can pass it to the Chinese mainland authorities for them to know fish farms supplying fish to Hong Kong.

"In the long run, we will require all importers and wholesalers to register the origin of all imports and the details of their sales, to enable rapid tracing of the origin of any problematic aquatic products and prompt follow-up action."

Chow said the government will conduct more tests on sea water fish after a green grouper tested positive for malachite green.

He thanked the trade for agreeing to withhold the sale of green grouper, and expects the government will have a clearer picture on the issue later.

Meanwhile, test results on four samples of green grouper on Friday found that one contains traces of malachite green while the others tested negative, the Food Environmental Hygiene Department said. It is working to identify the supply source.

(Xinhua News Agency September 3, 2005)

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