HK officials defend testing standards after province says they're too tough Food imports from Guangdong have plunged following the recent spate of food scandals. Hong Kong officials last night defended the city's food testing standards against mainland criticism that they are too tough. Figures obtained by the South China Morning Post show the flow of food from Guangdong to Hong Kong last month plunged 21.4 per cent - worth an estimated $30 million. Guangdong officials blamed the fall on recent reports of food scares in the Hong Kong media, while academics and manufacturers in the province said Hong Kong's standards were over-sensitive. A Hong Kong Food and Environmental Hygiene Department spokeswoman defended the city's testing systems, however, saying the standards had to be met. 'What we are concerned about [when testing imported food] is whether it is fit for human consumption and whether it meets the standards required by Hong Kong laws,' the spokeswoman said. She brushed off claims Hong Kong set the standards too high. 'The requirements demanded by the law are different in different regions,' she said. 'It's the job of a manufacturer, or importer, to meet the standards required by the place where they want to sell the product. 'Just because the law in your region is different it does not mean we have to set our standards according to your region. 'I think you must appreciate that there are different sets of standards for different places and there is not a set of standards that is accepted universally. Whether [our standards] are too tough or too lax depends on your perspective - everything is relative.' Wen Weiqun , director of the law supervision department of the Public Health Bureau of Guangdong, said media reports had misled consumers about the quality of Guangdong's food. 'Substandard food can be produced and found anywhere, including the mainland and Hong Kong,' he said. 'Media reports have misled consumers that Guangdong's food products cannot be eaten any more. The fact is, Guangdong's food safety environment has been improving, instead of worsening, since the recent launch of a series of inspections on Guangdong's food enterprises by the government.' Liu Xin, vice-secretary-general of the Guangdong Institute of Food Science and Technology, admitted differences existed between Hong Kong and Guangdong over the amount of preservatives allowed in processed food. 'Hong Kong is much more rigorous on preservatives than the mainland,' Ms Liu said. She said producers preferred using Guangdong's standards as the costs were much lower than for meeting Hong Kong's standards and storage life was doubled. She cited the example of Haitian soy sauce, which the Hong Kong government reported contained 0.75 grams of benzoic acid per kilogram - 0.2 grams above the level allowed in Hong Kong. 'Our standard is one gram. Scientifically, one cannot say that Hong Kong's standards are safer than ours,' Ms Liu said. Earlier this month, the government said it found that seven of 133 products tested contained excessive amounts of preservatives or additives. Six were from Guangdong. A spokeswoman for the Haitian food group said the company was a victim of media scares. 'Hong Kong has become too sensitive ... our products are 100 per cent safe.'