Consumer protection in Hong Kong

Which Hong Kong restaurant you choose may be key to healthier dining out, study shows

Study between the Consumer Council and the Centre for Food Safety reveals wild discrepancies in nutrients in the same dishes from different eateries

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 10:11pm

Where you eat might be more important than what you eat when dining out, according to the results of a consumer watchdog study released on Wednesday.

A study between the Consumer Council and the government’s Centre for Food Safety discovered alarming levels of salt and fat from 10 popular Hong Kong-style dishes. The study also revealed wild discrepancies in levels of the nutrients in the same dishes ordered from different restaurants.

Between March and April, the Centre for Food Safety collected samples of the 10 dishes, including local favourites sweet and sour pork, scrambled egg with shrimp and fish fillets in corn sauce.

Ten samples of each dish were sourced from restaurants across the city to evaluate how different cooking methods affects the nutrient levels.

For example, one sample of Chinese sweet and sour beef from Lei Garden in Kowloon contained 110g of fat, while the same dish from Ngan Lung Restaurant in Mong Kok only carried 8.8g.

In terms of salt, a serving of steamed pork patty with salted egg at Zhu Jiang Restaurant in Prince Edward had a whopping 3,000mg of sodium, 4.5 times more than the same dish from Ming Garden Restaurant in Lai Chi Kok.

Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, the World Health Organisation suggests individuals consume no more than 2,000mg, or one level teaspoon, of salt, and 66 grams of fat each day.

Diners should ask for less salt when ordering, the watchdog said, or avoid the dishes altogether and opt for healthier selections.

Dr Henry Ng Chi-cheung from the Centre for Food Safety said excessive intake of salt might add to the risk of developing high blood pressure and other forms of heart disease.

The restaurants have since been notified of the results.

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“Their response is generally positive; they are willing to consider the results and gradually reformulate the food so that the amount of sugar and fat would be gradually reduced,” Ng said.

Plans were also in place to expand a calorie label scheme currently under trial at 20 public hospital canteens, he added.

In the mean time, Ng suggested diners take a vocal approach: simply ask for less salt when they order at restaurants, or request sauces be served separately and not mixed into the dishes.