Milk cartons are recalled in scare over chemicals
Amy Nip and Dennis Chong
Food safety watchdogs have ordered Hong Kong's Trappist Dairy to stop selling all milk products sold in cartons and recall those on shelves over fear of chemical contamination.
The Centre for Food Safety warned the public not to consume three products, a 236ml hi-calcium, low fat milk with an expiry date of December 4 and 236ml and 946ml fresh milk cartons, both with the expiry date of December 6.
The warning came after the Centre for Health Protection discovered two cases of people falling ill after drinking the milk products and several complaints from the public.
Samples of the milk products concerned were collected for testing and laboratory results showed that five contained toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes, chemicals which should not exist in food.
But the levels of the chemicals present in the five samples did not exceed the tolerable daily intake established by the World Health Organisation and were deemed unlikely to cause adverse health effects.
The Trappist Dairy said the contamination could be traced to unauthorised repair work in a storehouse.
A construction subcontractor repaired the floors of a Tuen Mun warehouse without seeking permission of the company.
Chemicals put into use could have affected the milk products, a spokesman said.
Earlier on Tuesday, consumers told the company that some milk products smelled strange. It alerted the Centre for Food Safety.
Toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes are solvents for industrial use, a spokesman from Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong said.
'Having consumed food tainted by them, the chemicals could accumulate in the human body, affecting the liver and kidneys.
'But people should not worry if they show no symptoms of sickness,' he added.
The year the Trappist Dairy was founded by Father Jen Stanislus. It is operated by the Trappist Haven of Tai Shui Hang on Lantau Island