Hong Kong Published ‘The Harmful Substances in Food Regulation 2021’

Sandwich Inside Plastic Food Container

In Sep 2021, Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety published the Guidelines on ‘The Harmful Substances in Food (Amendment) Regulation 2021’ gazetted on 11 June 2021, which will come into operation on 1 June 2023 or 1 December 2023 depending on specific sections of the Regulation.

As a recap, the Amendment Regulation aims at updating and strengthening the regulatory control of three types of mycotoxins, i.e. aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol (also known as vomitoxin) and patulin, in food; as well as setting or updating the maximum levels for five other harmful substances (i.e. benzo[a]pyrene, glycidyl fatty acid esters, melamine, 3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol and erucic acid) in edible fats and oils, condiments or formula products intended for infants.

With reference to the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Amendment Regulation also specifies partially hydrogenated oil, i.e. the main source of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids (IP-TFAs), as a prohibited substance in food, with a view to meeting the WHO’s goal of eliminating IP-TFAs from the global food supply by 2023. To align with the prevailing international standards and practices, the Government also published in the Gazette on 11 June 2021 the Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) (Amendment) Regulation 2021 to stipulate that any prepackaged food containing hydrogenated oils, e.g. fully hydrogenated oil, must be indicated accordingly in the list of ingredients.

The set of Guidelines provide details on the following:

– Interpretation of Maximum Concentration of Harmful Substance in Food under Schedule 1 to the Amendment Regulation

– Interpretation of Prohibition of the Import of Any Edible Oil or Fat Containing Partially Hydrogenated Oil (PHO) and the Sale of Any Food Containing PHO under the Amendment Regulation and the Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) (Amendment) Regulation 2021

– FAQs

The Guidelines which should be read in conjunction with the Amendment Regulation and the Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) (Amendment) Regulation 2021, is intended for use as a general reference only. CFS also intends to brief industry members on this set of guidelines at the upcoming technical meeting on 8 October 2021.

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