Products from the mainland may be part of regular tests Pre-packaged food imported from the mainland may be included in the regular inspections by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department amid widespread public concerns about food safety, a senior official said yesterday. Thomas Chung Wai-hung, assistant director (food surveillance and control) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, also warned that the government might increase the penalty for selling unsafe food. The department inspects and tests about 53,000 food samples a year with around 0.3 per cent of those failing to meet standards. Inspectors look at labelling and the content of the food such as the levels of additives, chemicals and toxins. But pre-packaged food from the mainland is not a standard item for testing under the existing policy. The department has recently carried out a special probe into about 130 pre-packaged products manufactured in the mainland and sold in Hong Kong. On Monday, it announced the discovery of a cancer-causing toxin in a sample of Zheng Jin Rong 'red mud' peanuts manufactured in Guangzhou and sold in a grocery store in North Point. Department consultant Ho Yuk-yin said he expected a full report of the special investigation to be completed next week. Dr Ho said 'at least several more items' had been found to have breached the regulations on labelling and chemical levels. He said all the inspected items, which included drinks, biscuits and canned food, were obtained from the 'grey market' - not imported through agents. The maximum penalty for selling unsafe food is a $50,000 fine and six months in jail. However, Dr Chung said it was common for retailers to obtain lenient sentences, such as fines of a few thousand dollars, despite the effort by the department to bring prosecutions. A spokesman for the judiciary said last night: 'Regarding unsafe food, if the prosecution can produce sufficient evidence to prove that the food in question would seriously endanger public health, the court will certainly impose a heavy penalty.'