The Food Adulteration (Metallic Contamination) (Amendment) Regulation 2018 (the Amendment Regulation), which stipulates the updated standards for metallic contamination in food, came into force on November 1, 2019. The amendments aim to enhance the regulatory control and update the standards with a view to better protecting public health, facilitating effective regulation and aligning Hong Kong's standards with the international ones.
The Amendment Regulation increases the total number of metallic contaminants from the existing seven to 14. The number of maximum levels (MLs) for metallic contaminants in respect of different foods and food groups is increased from the existing 19 to 144. The Amendment Regulation also provides definitions for individual foods and food groups, replaces or deletes obsolete clauses, and provides the principles for the application of MLs on food in a dried, dehydrated or concentrated form and on compounded food. In addition, there are transitional provisions in the Amendment Regulation to provide different grace periods for different kinds of foods.
Effective 1 November 2019, the amended regulation will initially be applicable for certain types of fresh food with a shorter shelf life (i.e. fruit and vegetables and their juice, animal and poultry meat, edible offal of animal and poultry, aquatic animals and poultry eggs which have not been subjected to preservation process). For foods which normally have a longer shelf/storage life, the amended regulation will take effect on 1 November 2020. This is to allow sufficient time for traders to adapt to the updated MLs (including identifying alternative sources of supply if needed), and for the local testing and laboratory sector to build up testing capability for the new MLs.