Hong Kong: Shark’s tail skin found to contain excessive mercury

Centre for Food Safety (CFS)
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

10. November 2017

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CFS urges public not to consume shark’s tail skin found to contain excessive mercury

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (November 10) urged the public not to consume a batch of prepackaged shark’s tail skin as the product was found to contain a metal contaminant, mercury, at a level exceeding the legal limit. The trade should also stop using or selling the affected batch of the product should they possess it.

Product details are as follows:

Product name: Premium Shark’s Tail Skin
Brand: People Oriented
Net weight: 454 grams/1lb per box
Packer: Joinluck Corp Ltd
Best-before date: December 30, 2018

A CFS spokesman said, “The CFS collected the above-mentioned sample of shark’s tail skin from a supermarket in Causeway Bay for testing under its routine Food Surveillance Programme. The test result showed that it contained mercury at a level of 4.16 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the legal limit of 0.5 ppm.”

The spokesman said that the CFS has informed the vendor concerned of the irregularity and instructed it to stop sale and remove from shelves the affected batch of the product. The CFS is also tracing the source of the affected product.

“Mercury may affect the nervous system, particularly the developing brain. At high levels, mercury can affect foetal brain development, and affect vision, hearing, muscle co-ordination and memory in adults. Furthermore, as some international organisations such as the World Health Organization have pointed out, consuming predatory fish species is the main source of mercury intake for human beings. The report of the CFS’ Total Diet Study has also pointed out that large fish or predatory fish species may contain high mercury levels (for example, tuna, alfonsino, shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy and king mackerel). Hence, groups particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of mercury, such as pregnant women, women planning pregnancy and young children, should opt for fish that are smaller in size for consumption and avoid consumption of the above-mentioned types of fish which may contain high mercury levels to minimise the health risk posed to the foetus, infants and young children by excessive exposure to metal contaminants in food,” he added.

According to the Food Adulteration (Metallic Contamination) Regulations (Cap 132V), any person who sells food with metallic contamination above the legal limit may be prosecuted and is liable upon conviction to a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.

“People are advised to maintain a balanced and varied diet. To avoid health risks posed by excessive intake of metallic contaminants, pregnant women, women planning pregnancy and young children should avoid eating large or predatory fish,” the spokesman said.

The CFS will alert the trade, continue to follow up on the case and take appropriate action.

Source: CFS Hong Kong

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