Laboratory technician Jo Hon works long hours with her colleagues at ParknShop testing produce for pesticides and bacteria I ACTUALLY WORK two shift duties. The morning shift is from 7.30am to 4.30pm, and the overnight shift is from 11pm to 8am the next day. On the first shift I do microbiological testing. I take samples from the sampler machine [a system that extracts solvents from a product into a test tube], mark them and give them a lab number. At the end of the incubation period I do a plate counting. That's when I check to see whether or not the bacterial amounts are over the standard. If they are over I immediately recall the samples or do a resampling. As well as food samples I do water sample tests, examining water from the fish tanks and seafood tanks in the stores. We check every store's tanks, on site, every two to three months, on a rotation system. They don't know when we will visit, so it's a surprise. Finally, I may also check the safety or hygiene levels in the Sheung Shui distribution centre factories. Even decorative potted plants can contaminate food, so we must check those too. At night I am mainly concerned with pesticide control tests. We test 10 boxes of Chinese leafy vegetables of a particular kind every night. We take a standard amount of vegetables from each shipment, based on a random sampling, and screen test for pesticides. The test tells immediately if there's a prohibited pesticide in the vegetable. We use the Codex [an international standard for permitted pesticides]. If the amount is very small, compared to the Codex, it may be deemed acceptable. But sometimes we require levels even lower than the Codex standard. If the pesticide is higher than the Codex standard, we recall all the samples. That's why this testing is done at night, before the produce goes to the stores. My lab colleagues are experienced and have been trained in using the machine. I learn a lot from all their experience. We also have a lot of information and textbooks related to the subject. I always try to keep learning something new on the subject. We have scheduled breaks on each shift. What we do is related to public health, so we have to be fully focused on the job. We cannot afford to get too tired. The late hours were difficult at first, but I am used to it now. I work the night shift once or twice every couple of weeks. There is a person assigned to the late shift, and my lab mates and I take over when he is on holiday. There have been a lot of food scares in Hong Kong recently, all related to vegetables and fish. When something like this happens we have to collect more samples than usual and the team has a bigger workload. If there is a health crisis our workload will be much greater. I have a degree in applied biology and I have worked here for just over six months. I graduated from university this year. This is my dream job. I have always wanted to work in the food industry, especially in laboratories. I believe I will have a great career here and hope to stay for as long as possible. My job satisfaction comes from ensuring that the food sources are safe and that the customers are buying safe items.