Customs officers are no strangers to counterfeit red wine and pork luncheon meat. But as the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches next week, they have seized their first mooncakes bearing the forged trademark of a traditional bakery in Yuen Long.
The Hang Heung Cake Shop is the latest brand to fall victim to counterfeiters after 135 boxes of double-yolk white lotus seed paste mooncakes were seized from a cosmetics and beauty centre in Yuen Long on Monday.
Officers arrested the proprietor of the centre, a 50-year-old woman, on suspicion of selling mooncakes bearing fake labels to her clients.
The haul was believed to have been produced on the mainland and was worth about HK$20,000, the Customs and Excise Department said.
Michael Kwan Yuk-kwan, operations chief of customs' intellectual property investigation group, said the ingredients of the fake Hang Heung snack were of a low quality but were not harmful to health, according to tests.
"The egg yolk in the real product is very big and tastes good, but is very small and rather dry in the fake mooncake," he said.
The counterfeit product has a description of the ingredients printed on the metal box and the fireworks pattern on the lid is badly done.
A genuine box of Hang Heung double-yolk white lotus seed paste mooncakes sells for about HK$200, but the fakes are priced at only HK$120.
Kwan believed a very limited quantity had been sold in Hong Kong for the festival, which falls on September 19.
"Our investigation shows the suspect had just started selling them," he said. "It is the first time mooncakes bearing a fake label have been seized in the city."
The woman has been released on bail and has not been charged.
Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance people who sell goods bearing a forged trademark face a jail term of up to five years and a HK$500,000 fine.
All inquiries about falsely labelled mooncakes should be directed to the customs hotline on 2545 6182.