Nine spice products sold in Hong Kong contain substances that could cause cancer

Local | 15 Oct 2020 1:45 pm

A curry powder sold in “Yau Lee Bean Sauce” on Tang Lung Street in Causeway Bay was found to contain a cancer-causing substance exceeding the Hong Kong limit.

Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog has found nine spice products sold in the city contained substances that could cause cancer, with the amount in one exceeding local regulatory limits.

The Consumer Council said that nine among 37 dried spices tested were found to have either aflatoxins (AFs), ochratoxin A (OTA), or both.

AFs and OTA are mycotoxins produced by fungi, where AFs are carcinogenic and OTA to be potentially carcinogenic, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

AFs were linked to liver cancer and may affect unborn babies, and OTA could also cause cancer.

Nine products that were tested positive with either substances or both include, Ladaku White Pepper Powder, Select White Pepper Powder, Raitip White Pepper, TESCO Ginger Ground, Old Master Curry Powder, SureBuy White Pepper, Waitrose Cooks' Ingredients Organic Curry Powder, which were purchased from local supermarkets.

The other two samples were curry powder and garlic powder purchased from local grocery stores “Yau Lee Bean Sauce” and “Shing Hing Spice Shop” respectively.

Among all samples, AFs found in the curry powder sold at “Yau Lee Bean Sauce” – went beyond the upper limit set by the Centre for Food Safety’s regulations of 15 micrograms per kilogram.

The council noted there was currently no regulatory oversight on the maximum concentration of OTA in spice products.

The council said the European Union had such regulations and had a recommended upper limit of 15 micrograms per kilogram, so Hong Kong should keep up with the times and the test results warranted attention.-Photo: The Consumer Council

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