It was not just the fake Louboutin high-heel shoes or the pirated Avatar DVD you pick up on the street that worried US officials when they held meetings with Hong Kong law enforcement agencies. Department of Homeland Security officials are particularly concerned about fake medicine and food or consumer products that threaten public safety. Beyond the billions of dollars lost by legitimate companies to the pirating industry, counterfeit goods such as phoney pharmaceuticals or fake brand-name toothpaste pose a significant risk to the health of people globally, said John Morton, the assistant secretary for immigration and customs enforcement of the US department. 'It is something we need to spend a lot of time on because many people in Hong Kong or the United States can get hurt if they are taking a drug that doesn't do what it says it's going to do, or worse yet, contains chemicals that are harmful,' Morton said. The mainland was the source of 79 per cent of all counterfeit products seized last year in the United States, totalling US$204.7 million. Hong Kong was sourced to US$26.8 million worth of fake items, or 10 per cent of the total value of seized goods. While the bulk of pirated goods out of the mainland were fake shoes, clothes, jewellery and electronics, the manufacturing giant produced most of the potentially dangerous counterfeits seized last year. Imports from the mainland accounted for more than 62 per cent of seized goods that posed a safety or security risk. In the case of counterfeit goods, Morton said Hong Kong's problem was less about production and more to do with being a major hub for cargo transport. 'Obviously there was a time in Hong Kong's past where the manufacturing base was much larger. The main focus today is on shipping because Hong Kong is a regional powerhouse in that regard. And so a great deal of items that end up in the United States [are] either coming directly from Hong Kong or through Europe and other major ports,' Morton said. He met immigration, customs, justice and police officials during a two-day stay in Hong Kong. He also briefed officials on financial crimes such as cash smuggling, money laundering and customs fraud. In the first nine months of last year, local customs officials seized HK$60.9 million worth of copyright-infringing goods. Of the 24,316 cases handled during that period, nearly 100 concerned the safety of consumer goods or children's products. Morton praised the 'mature and sophisticated relationship' between his agency and counterparts in Hong Kong.