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Egg Fear Urges HK to Strengthen Food Import Scheme
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Hong Kong's health chief Wednesday apologized for the previous misleading information about Sudan red eggs and vowed to strengthen food import scheme of Hong Kong to guard food safety of the city.

The Center for Food Safety Monday assured the public that Sudan dye eggs was not imported, which is contradictory to the report Wednesday by Food and Environmental Hygiene Department that Sudan dye eggs was discovered in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Acting Food Safety Center Controller Ho Yuk-yin said Wednesday Sudan dyes have been detected in samples of a hen and duck egg in Hong Kong.

Ho said the center has examined the second batch of eggs collected at wholesale and retail outlets. The duck egg had a low level of Sudan dye and came from the YueHwa Chinese Products Emporium. The department store has surrendered its remaining duck eggs for disposal.

The tainted hen egg was imported from Hunan. The Government Laboratory will conduct further tests to determine the dye level.

The center said the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has been informed of the case and the authority has agreed to suspend the export of Hunan hen eggs to Hong Kong.

Ho said since the Sudan level found in the tainted samples is low, the center considers the carcinogenic risk to the public is low, adding there is no cause for undue concern.

He reiterated that the center will trace the source of the tainted eggs and stop them from entering the market. Test results on the third batch of egg samples will be released as soon as possible.

York Chow, Hong Kong's Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, apologized for the poor communication and said the Center for Food Safety should inform the public as soon as there are any suspected food safety hazards in the community.

He added that all the egg imports from Hunan Province were stopped until the health of the egg sources are confirmed. Besides, the department will try to establish a legal framework to register egg importers and make sure they have health certification for their products before importing them to Hong Kong.

Chow admitted that Hong Kong faces tremendous challenge in term of food safety mainly because most of the food is being imported from many different countries and places.

On the Chinese mainland turbot fish, Ho said two out of the five samples collected for chemical tests contain malachite green. The contaminated fish were collected from a market in the New Territories.

Fish importers have been asked not to import Mainland turbot fish to Hong Kong and the center will step up its inspection to ensure no turbot fish from the Chinese mainland are sold in the market.

(Xinhua News Agency November 23, 2006)

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