The government yesterday insisted the mainland's monitoring system for freshwater fish was effective after Guangdong cleared its fish farms of responsibility for the banned chemicals discovered in fish supplied to Hong Kong.
Guangdong authorities said their investigation suggested the contamination might have occurred at wholesale or retail level.
The Guangdong Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said inspections of three fish farms, whose fish had tested positive for the cancer-causing fungicide malachite green and antibiotic nitrofuran, had found them to meet the required standards for exports to Hong Kong and their fish to be clear of both chemicals.
It said the investigation, which covered areas such as the breeding of fry and monitoring of water quality, indicated the contaminated fish might have come from improper sources or have been contaminated at wholesale or retail level.
Hong Kong's Health, Welfare and Food Bureau welcomed the report last night. 'Judging from the results, the government believes the system of registration and monitoring in the mainland is effective and fish products from registered farms are safe,' a spokesman said.
The bureau would work with Guangdong to try to resume as soon as possible imports of freshwater fish into Hong Kong, which have been halted by the fish farmers since the end of last month.
Earlier in the day, Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua said exports of freshwater fish to Hong Kong would soon resume.
Tommy Hui Hon-man, of the Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories Freshwater Fish Wholesale Association, welcomed the news. 'More than 10,000 people working in related industries have been affected. Every one of us hopes the supply can resume,' he said.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Food Safety said it has found malachite green in a sample of chilled fish head taken from a fish stall in Cheung Sha Wan Wholesale Food Market on Thursday.