Supermarkets welcome fillip for their efforts

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 February, 2009, 12:00am

Supermarkets may well have breathed a collective sigh of relief when the results of the Sunday Morning Post tests arrived in their inboxes last week.

Results from the food tests largely showed food-testing regimes undertaken by the major food providers were working well, with no traces of pesticides or significant heavy metal levels found in any of the foods tested.

A spokeswoman for Wellcome and ThreeSixty, both controlled by the Dairy Farm group, said the company would pass the Post's findings on to its own scientists for further testing. It would then make further comment, but it was happy that foods from both stores were untainted by pesticides and heavy metals.

A spokeswoman for City'super said it employed a quality assurance team to control food quality and conduct testing. 'Our buyers always import from reliable sources and quality manufacturers to make sure our products are safe, with supporting certificates,' she said.

A spokeswoman for Great said it was happy to see from the test reports that the supermarket 'fell well into the standards'. It had invested millions to establish a food safety laboratory to monitor the products on its shelves. 'We have a team of more than 20 qualified food technologists working in our quality assurance team in Hong Kong and [mainland] China, to ensure the quality and safety of the food we sell,' the spokeswoman said.

Great and ParknShop introduced a 'farm check' system in 1999 to monitor vegetables supplied from the mainland. 'We further enhanced the system in 2007 by introducing the 'vegetable barcode ID card tracing system', which records detailed information on every basket of mainland-origin vegetables, including the farm where they were grown, the supplier and their final store destination,' the Great spokeswoman said.

'We have used a strict control system called 'farm check', since 1999, to monitor every approved vegetable farm on mainland China that supplies us.'

The supermarkets also said they were increasingly finding that customers were looking for organic foods in their stores.

'Wellcome understands that more and more customers are consciously looking for organic foods when they shop. We try our best to provide these options for them, but not in every store,' a spokeswoman for the supermarket said yesterday. 'Customers who specifically want organic food can go straight to our ThreeSixty store to ensure a wide variety of choice in organics.'

A City'super spokeswoman said the trend favouring organic food was on the rise. Sales in its stores made up 10 to 15 per cent of all food sold.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said organic farming was a growing trend, with 127 farms or farmers joining the department's support service.