Food authorities in Hong Kong have raised the alarm that up to 48,000 cans of pork luncheon meat contaminated with liquid mercury could be on the market in the territory.
The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) said up to1,000 cases of Greatwall Brand Chopped Pork and Ham may be tainted with the substance. The agency said it became aware of the problem after a complaint that one of the 340g tins contained 0.4g of silvery droplets that were later confirmed to be the toxic metal.
Following the announcement, the body said it had run tests on 13 more samples of the same product of different batches from the local market. Preliminary examination had not revealed mercury droplets – although more detailed test results were pending.
Distributor Yuen Tai Trading Co has issued a full recall as a precautionary measure.
A CFS spokesman called on trader to stop selling the concerned batch of products and warned consumers not to eat them.
Liquid mercury is poorly absorbed in the digestive tract although significant health concerns after its ingestion are unlikely, said a CFS statement.
“Liquid mercury is not involved in the manufacturing process of the concerned canned product,” said the spokesman. “The CFS has informed the relevant Mainland authority of the finding. The incident is still under investigation. The CFS will closely monitor the situation with appropriate follow up actions.”
Mercury is a heavy metal that occurs in several forms, all of which can produce toxic effects in high enough doses. Toxic effects include damage to the brain, kidney, and lungs. Mercury poisoning can result in several diseases, including acrodynia (pink disease), Hunter-Russell syndrome, and Minamata disease