Health officials to check on pesticide in baby food scare
By JANE MOIR
REPORTS that pesticide residues have been found in leading US brands of baby food are to be investigated by the Department of Health and the Consumer Council.
Even though residue levels meet federal standards, two US environmental groups said there could be risks because the food 'still contains residues of pesticides at levels not shown to be safe for infants'.
The study released by the Environmental Working Group and the National Campaign for Pesticide Policy Reform found residues of 16 different pesticides and other toxins in eight baby foods from Heinz, Gerber and Beech-Nut.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said yesterday: 'We have contacted the American Consulate-General to obtain more information.
'Surveillance of pesticide residue forms a Department of Health's regular food surveillance programme.
'International standards, namely Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and World Health Organisation standards, are adopted locally.
'Baby food conforming to these standards is safe for consumption. Of the 128 baby food samples tested in the past 21/2 years, all were negative for pesticides,' he said.
A spokesman for the Consumer Council said it would take action after receiving a copy of the report.
'We will follow this up, try to get the report to see how serious the situation is and see what we can do to look at consumer health.
'There's no crisis as such but we will be interested to know what's in the report, see what we can do in terms of consumer education and whether the same thing is happening in Hong Kong and [find out] if these particular products are available here,' he said.
The council would carry out tests if necessary.
A senior lecturer at the Department of Paediatrics at Prince of Wales Hospital, Dr Sophie Leung Suk-fong, urged parents to prepare toddler's food themselves.
'It's a good time to remind parents it's home-made food that's best.' Van Hindes, a spokesman for Gerber, said: 'All Gerber baby foods are safe.' Heinz and Beech-Nut also said they had stringent controls to reduce pesticide residues.