Hygiene alarm as bacteria found in Vita brand milk

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 May, 2008, 12:00am


Related topics

A food safety survey found Vita brand milk contained coliform bacteria, indicating a hygiene problem during production.

The Centre for Food Safety yesterday released a report on food samples collected in March and April, which showed three bottles of Vitasoy's Vita gold-top pasteurised milk tested positive for coliform, which is prohibited by food standards.

All three bottles were from a shipment of 3,855 bottles on the way from Vitasoy's mainland factory to Hong Kong. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department confiscated and destroyed more than 1,000 unsold bottles in March, but took no action on an estimated 2,000 from the same batch that consumers had already purchased. The Centre for Food Safety received no complaints about the milk.

Miranda Lee Siu-yuen stressed that coliform posed no health threat to people but that its presence did indicate the level of hygiene.

'There are bacteria that are harmful, and bacteria that are not. This merely indicates the production process is not satisfactory,' she said.

Vitasoy 'has conducted a thorough investigation into this incident and has determined that this is an isolated incident', a company spokeswoman said. It has not received any complaints regarding the product.

The centre also said that a large green pepper from ParknShop was found to contain 2 parts per million of methamidophos, a pesticide, but claimed it posed a low risk to health.

ParknShop removed all peppers from the same mainland supplier as a precautionary measure two months ago when the centre informed them of the result, the company said. It would not name the supplier or say whether products besides the peppers were affected.

The centre report said a fried fritter from a Chinese restaurant in a Tseung Kwan O shopping mall was found to contain 1,000ppm of boric acid, a preservative, but Dr Lee said the amount that was found would not pose a significant health risk to people.

For the report, the centre tested 8,400 products, including meat, fish, poultry, milk, dairy products and grains, with 29 substandard samples, for a satisfactory rate of 99.7 per cent. The results were similar to those in past reports, Dr Lee said.

They conducted microbiological, chemical, and radioactivity tests. Products that were unsatisfactory included fish, oysters and meat.

Grains scored worst, with six samples, including Indomie brand instant noodles and fried noodles from different restaurants, not passing the test.

The Centre for Food Safety has confiscated all products that tested substandard and requested vendors and restaurants to discontinue them.

They also produced a one-time survey on Chinese breakfast foods, testing 366 samples of popular items like congee, dumplings and rice rolls.

Only one sample, the fritter, was unsatisfactory.