Traces of Sulphur Dioxide Found in Fresh Beef Samples

Centre for Food Safety Discovers Sulphur Dioxide Samples in Fresh Beef

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) announced that traces of sulphur dioxide were found in a fresh beef sample.

A preservative, sulphur dioxide can be found in dried fruits and vegetables, pickled products, and salted fish, however it is entirely prohibited to be used to treat fresh meat. The maximum penalty for violating the Preservatives in Food Regulation (Cap. 132BD) governing the ban of sulphur dioxide use is a HK$50,000 fine and up to six months of imprisonment.

The fresh beef was randomly sampled from a market stall at Tai Kiu Market in the Yuen Long district. The operation was part of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s routine Food Surveillance Programme checkup.

According to lab results, the obtained portion showed traces of sulphur dioxide that reached 658 parts per million. An investigation is underway to follow up on the irregularity.

A CFS spokesman noted that sulphur dioxide is used to make meat look fresher and warned shoppers to be aware of meat that looks unnaturally red. Individuals who may be extra sensitive to the substance might experience reactions of shortness of breath, headaches, and nausea after ingesting food items tainted with sulphur dioxide.

Fortunately, the chemical is water soluble and can be removed through washing and cooking thoroughly, though it is still recommended to avoid the risk.

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