The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) is probing a well-established retailer in Sheung Wan after it was found selling dioxin-contaminated hairy crabs.
The Center for Food Safety (CFS), which is under the FEHD, said on Wednesday that hairy crab samples from Shing Lung Hong Co. tested positive for dioxin, a highly toxic chemical compound that can cause cancer and damage a person’s reproductive, development and immune systems, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Officials from the center suspect that the company forged certificates to circumvent an existing ban on the sale of hairy crabs imported from two farms in eastern Jiangsu province.
However, the company’s owner, surnamed Li, denied any wrongdoing, saying it is very irresponsible for the CFS to cast suspicions on the firm without solid evidence.
The company insists that the crabs came from Xiantao in central China’s Hubei province.
But the owner of the Xiantao company from which the crabs were supposedly imported, said it has never done business with Shing Lung Hong, adding that its goods have never been found to have excessive levels of dioxin and other toxins.
According to CFS, the samples in question were found to contain 42.7 picograms of dioxin per gram, exceeding the legal limit of 6.5 picograms per gram by 560 percent.
In early November, similar tests revealed that samples of hairy crabs from two farms in Jiangsu contained dangerous levels of dioxin and other toxins, leading the FEHD to order 15 retailers in Hong Kong that imported hairy crabs from the two farms to halt sales of such crabs.
CFS officials suspect that Shing Lung Hong is lying about the origin of its hairy crabs because the toxin levels in the firm’s samples were very similar to those from Jiangsu.
Dr. Gloria Tam Lai-fan, CFS controller, said it is possible that the retailer forged the certificate on the crabs’ origin.
An investigation is underway to determine if any tampering of the certificate was involved, who were responsible, and whether they did it intentionally or as a result of carelessness, Tam said.
She said a person found guilty of knowingly providing false documents can be fined up to HK$10,000 and sentenced to a maximum jail term of three months, according to the Food Safety Ordinance.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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