Three samples of Japanese noodle snacks being sold at a retail shop in Kowloon City were found to contain the banned sweetener stevioside, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) said yesterday.
According to the Sweeteners in Food Regulations, stevioside should not be used in food products.
The CFS is considering prosecuting the retailer and has ordered it to withdraw the products that are imported from Japan.
But the CFS has asked people who had already eaten the noodles not to be alarmed because stevioside is not known to harm a normally healthy person.
Stevioside is 300 times sweeter than sugar, and can be used as a sweetener in food products in places such as Japan and some countries in South America.
The retailer had sold about 100 packets of the noodle snacks in corn and salad flavor before the CFS detected they contained the banned substance.
A spokesman for the retailer said yesterday that people who had bought the snacks could seek a refund and dial its hotline 23820168 for further enquiries.
CFS officials collected 10 samples of the snacks from seven outlets for laboratory tests after receiving complaints that they could be selling snacks that contained stevioside.
The retailer might be guilty of breaching two regulations: one for selling snacks that contain stevioside and the other for not detailing its contents in Chinese and/or English on its package.
The Food & Drugs (Composition & Labeling) Regulations make it mandatory for products to carry all products' information in Chinese and/or English.
CFS data show that in the past few years, six retailers have been prosecuted for selling food containing stevioside and they were fined HK$2,000 to HK$8,000 each.
(China Daily December 25, 2006)