Keep im­ported food safe

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HK COMMENT -

Milk pro­tein con­cen­trates (MPCs) pro­duced by Fon­terra Co­op­er­a­tive Group of New Zealand were found to have been con­tam­i­nated by clostrid­ium bo­tulinum and more than 80,000 cans of Cow & Gate baby for­mula pow­der con­tain­ing MPCs pro­duced by Fon­terra en­tered the re­tail mar­ket in Hong Kong.

The sus­pect baby for­mula not only poses a se­ri­ous threat to ba­bies’ health but also puts Hong Kong’s rep­u­ta­tion as a shop­pers’ par­adise in jeop­ardy. The govern­ment should thor­oughly screen all dairy prod­ucts im­ported from New Zealand im­me­di­ately and con­sider a tem­po­rary im­port ban on MPCs and even other dairy prod­ucts made by Fon­terra to pro­tect lo­cal chil­dren’s health and re­build con­sumer con­fi­dence.

Rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties need to step up ran­dom test­ing of dairy prod­ucts con­tain­ing raw and/or semi-pro­cessed ma­te­ri­als from Fon­terra and stay in con­tact with sup­pli­ers and dis­trib­u­tors to make sure no more sus­pect baby for­mula will find its way into the city.

Qual­ity as­sur­ance is a main rea­son why Hong Kong has been known as a shop­pers’ par­adise to nu­mer­ous vis­i­tors from around the world and par­tic­u­larly from the main­land. It is very un­for­tu­nate that the lat­est food safety scan­dal in­volves Fon­terra, the lead­ing dairy prod­uct sup­plier in the world, and the tainted MPCs it has ex­ported are used in a wide va­ri­ety of pro­cessed foods sold to con­sumers through many chan­nels, in­clud­ing pas­try and dairy drinks con­tain­ing but­ter, cream, cheese and/or yo­gurt. If such sus­pect foods are still avail­able in Hong Kong they may dra­mat­i­cally re­duce many peo­ple’s de­sire to visit Hong Kong, which is why the govern­ment must take all mea­sures nec­es­sary to win back con­sumer con­fi­dence in Hong Kong’s re­tail foods.

The Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Qual­ity Su­per­vi­sion, In­spec­tion and Quar­an­tine, the coun­try’s top qual­ity en­forcer, has or­dered a tem­po­rary ban on im­ports of MPCs pro­duced by Fon­terra and baby for­mu­las pro­duced by Fon­terra’s pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties in Aus­tralia. It is time the SAR govern­ment took sim­i­lar steps to stop the threat at the door by stay­ing posted on re­lated de­vel­op­ments from all par­ties con­cerned.

This is an ex­cerpted trans­la­tion of a Wen Wei Po edi­to­rial pub­lished on Aug 6.

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