Hong Kong consumers warned to stay away from mooncakes with high sugar, fat or sodium content

Centre for Food Safety says it is particularly concerned about mooncakes with excessive levels of sweetener

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 12:03am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 12:03am

Consumers have been warned to exercise caution when buying mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival and to choose those with low levels of sugar, fat and sodium.

The advice came as the Centre for Food Safety released test ­results from 50 unnamed brands of mooncake. The centre warned in particular of those containing large amounts of sweeteners.

So-called ice-skin or snowy mooncakes contained the highest levels of sugar compared with other varieties, the study found.

The highest amount was found in a 60-gram snowy brand with a lemonade flavour. The sweetener took up42.7 grams per 100-gram serving – equivalent to eight sugar cubes, or half an adult’s ­recommended daily sugar intake.

The second-highest sugar ­level was found in a traditional mooncake containing 37.6 grams per 100 grams, followed by a Chinese ham mooncake (35.8 grams) and custard one (24.9 grams).

To offset the energy intake in one custard-flavoured mooncake, consumers would have to swim freestyle for 50 minutes or cycle for 40 minutes, according to the centre’s principal medical ­officer Dr Samuel Yeung Tze-kiu.

Dietician Sylvia Lam See-way, a member of the government’s Committee on Reduction of Salt and Sugar in Food, said all types of mooncake had a very high level of sugar in them.

“In one day, consumers would be better off with either just a quarter of a traditional mooncake or one whole mini snowy mooncake,” she said.

The study also highlighted brands containing large amounts of fat and sodium.

The brand with the highest ­sodium level contained 376 milligrams per 100-gram serving, plus 27 grams of fat.

Lam urged Mid-Autumn ­Festival enthusiasts to choose brands containing low levels of sugar, fat and sodium. At least nine brands sampled in the study made such claims, meaning their sugar levels did not exceed five grams per 100 grams of serving.

She said the committee wanted the food industry to develop healthier recipes.

The centre also tested 130 mooncake samples for chemical, microbiological and nutritional content. They all passed the tests.