Some hearty advice for siu mei, lo mei lovers

Top News | Sophie Hui and Phoebe Lee 16 Jan 2020

One-third of Cantonese cuisine siu mei and lo mei tested exceeded safety levels of sodium, which could lead to life-threatening chronic diseases, the Consumer Council has warned.

The watchdog and the Centre for Food Safety tested the sodium and fat content of 100 samples from 10 types of siu mei and lo mei from restaurants, fast-food shops, roasted meat shops, and supermarkets.

The samples included popular dishes such as roasted pork, roasted suckling pig, soy sauce chicken and red sausage.

The World Health Organization recommends that an adult's sodium intake should not be more than 2,000mg a day.

Thirty-three samples exceeded the acceptable level of sodium, with more than 600mg of sodium per 100g of food.

The tests found that red sausages have the highest average sodium content. Eating seven to eight pieces would mean eating 1,000mg of sodium.

Roasted pork had the second-highest average sodium content with 870mg per 100g, followed by barbecued pork with 660mg.

Other high sodium samples included brine goose gizzard, roasted suckling pig and brine goose intestine.

Excessive intake of sodium can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of having heart disease, stroke and kidney failure, said CFS principal medical officer Henry Ng Chi-cheung.

A roasted pork sample from a meat shop in Sheung Wan has the highest sodium content with 1,400mg. A lunch box of 170g roasted pork and rice would exceed the daily sodium intake limit by 20 percent, the watchdog said.

"Be reminded that this is only one meal, and we will eat other food like bread - such as plain rolls - for breakfast and steamed pork patty with salted egg yolk at dinner. There can be quite a large intake of sodium," Ng said.

The lo mei sample with the highest level of sodium was a brine goose gizzard with 1,100mg, from a shop in Lei Yue Mun.

Roasted goose and soy sauce chicken are considered as healthier choices as their average sodium content was relatively lower with 240mg and 350mg.

The watchdog said sauces used in siu mei and lo mei, specifically barbecue pork sauce and lo shui sauce, are also very high in sodium.

Every 100g of barbecue pork sauce contains 1,600mg of sodium. Lo shui sauce contains 2,200mg of sodium per 100g.

The watchdog urged businesses to reduce the sodium content of their dishes, while consumers can ask caterers to serve the sauce and marinade separately from the dish.

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