We won’t pull our mooncakes yet, Hong Kong brand insists despite exceeding Macau carcinogen level

Company suspects problem arose because bakery did not know the two cities have different standards

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 September, 2016, 10:25pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 September, 2016, 11:29pm

A Hong Kong cake brand has said it will not recall its mooncakes or pull them off shelves for now despite Macau authorities finding a carcinogenic substance in a sample exceeding permitted levels.

Macau authorities said on Friday that testing results showed two mooncake samples exceeded the city’s permitted levels of aflatoxin B1. The samples were made by Hang Heung Cake Shop in Hong Kong and a hotel in Macau.

According to Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety, aflatoxins are potent human carcinogens and associated with liver cancer. Some researchers suggest aflatoxin B1 runs a higher risk of causing cancer in people carrying the hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus.

The aflatoxin B1 level from the Hang Heung bakery sample was 7.48 microgrammes. Macau regulations stipulate the substance shall not exceed 5 microgrammes for every 1,000g of food.

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Macau authorities then asked manufacturers and retailers to stop selling the products in question and recall them.

Kazu Leung Chi-chung, the company’s executive manager, said Hang Heung would keep selling the product as it had not pinpointed the cause of the problem.

“We tried contacting the Macau authorities,” he said, noting it was the weekend.

But Leung said the company suspected that its bakery did not know Macau and Hong Kong had different standards.

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According to the Harmful Substances in Food Regulations in Hong Kong, the maximum permitted concentration of aflatoxin in any food other than peanut or its products is 15 microgrammes per kg of the food.

A spokesman from the Food and Environment Hygiene Department said the centre earlier tested about 170 mooncake samples from around 20 different brands. All passed the test.

Undersecretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Sau-chee said it would again be testing mooncakes for food safety.

Additional reporting by Emily Tsang