More than seven in 10 of samples of vegetables sold in Hong Kong markets have tested positive for pesticide residues, according to the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU).
HKBU’s Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre collected 60 samples of locally and mainland-grown choi sum, Chinese white cabbage and Chinese spinach from wet markets, organic stores and organic farms in 17 districts of the city between September and November last year.
According to the test results unveiled by the center on Sunday, 43 of the samples, or around 72 percent, contained pesticide residues, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Some of those samples with pesticide residues were either certified by mainland authorities or being sold as organic vegetables.
Of the 43 pesticide-tainted samples, 35 were found to have exceeded European Union pesticide residue standards, including all of the supposedly organic vegetables from the mainland.
Two samples certified in Hong Kong were also found to have exceeded local standards, which set the maximum level of pesticide residues at 0.1mg per kilogram.
Professor Jonathan Wong Woon-chung, a biology professor at the HKBU and director of the center, said while the detected amount of pesticide residues in the samples should only pose low health risk, even though it was higher than the local regulatory level, it may still have a bigger effect on vegetarians, children and vegetable lovers.
Wong urged the government to regulate the certification of organic food, adding a certification labeling law is needed to resolve the problem, RTHK reported.
An on-site study conducted in Hong Kong found that a vegetable stall in Kowloon City displayed a counterfeit organic certificate, while expired certificates were displayed by three stalls in Sheung Tak Market in Tseung Kwan O, Kowloon City Market and Aberdeen Main Road.
Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Leung Siu-fai said on Sunday that whether organic vegetables were contaminated by pesticides due to man-made or environmental causes is not certain yet. He advised the public to buy organic vegetables only from certified vendors.
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