Chain's food safety manager produces health certificate over oilfish fiasco ParknShop last night denied it had misled the public over the oilfish incident in which 14 consumers, who had eaten the fish labelled as cod, suffered diarrhoea. Peter Johnston, the chain's general manager of quality, food safety and regulatory affairs, last night apologised to customers, but maintained the supermarket had acted responsibly. Mr Johnston produced a health certificate dated January 15 from the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries in which the fish was identified as codfish fillet. 'The evidence clearly shows we had never any intention to mislead any consumers and we did not in fact mislead them,' he said. Mr Johnston said Hong Kong officials did not require the health certificates for frozen food, but it had always asked suppliers to provide the documents. 'As a responsible retailer we have taken all reasonable steps to check the quality and safety of the food we sell over and above the legal requirements in Hong Kong,' he said. But when pressed further, Mr Johnston admitted the certificate was the only one he had seen. 'We ask the suppliers to retain the health certificates themselves ... Now that the issue has come to light, we have asked them to provide us with the originals.' The certificate relates only to one of three suppliers Sea Ocean (HK) which supplies 75 per cent of the supermarket's oilfish. Certificates for the other suppliers were not shown last night. Mr Johnston said that when it realised the fish they sold as cod was also called oilfish in other countries, it decided to add the word oilfish in brackets behind the word codfish. The shop had recalled all cod supplies after advice from the Centre for Food Safety, he said, adding that customers would be compensated. There was no consensus on what to call this fish, he added. Customs officers and the consumer watchdog are deciding whether legal action will be taken against ParknShop. ParknShop declined to comment on the threat. Many of those who ate the oilfish told of their ordeals during an RTHK radio phone-in programme yesterday. 'I had diarrhoea for days. My two children went to the toilet more than a dozen times a day,' said one woman, who gave her name as Yeung. Another caller, a Mr Chan, said that in countries like Australia people did not eat oilfish, which is primarily used to make industrial lubricants. The Customs department is investigating to see if the store violated the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, which states that information should be clearly displayed on shelves at the point of sale. Those infringing the ordinance face a maximum penalty of a HK$500,000 fine and five years' jail. As oilfish could lead to diarrhoea in some people, it was not suitable for the catering industry to include it on menus for consumers, a food safety centre spokesman said. Chan King-ming, an associate professor in biochemistry at Chinese University, said oilfish was not a variety of cod. 'It is a relative of tuna. However, it is banned in Australia and Japan and I think people better not eat it as it can cause stomach discomfort and might contain some unknown toxin as well.'