With the Dragon Boat Festival approaching and to safeguard food safety, the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM), the Health Bureau and the Consumer Council have collected a total of 30 rice dumpling samples from the market for microbiological and chemical tests, which included tests for Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, borax and Sudan red (only for those samples that contain egg yolks). Test results showed that two samples of rye rice dumpling contained the banned preservative, borax, while no abnormalities were found in the other tested items. The authorities have already urged the shop concerned to stop the production and sale of those affected rice dumplings.
The authorities remind the trade and the public not to use borax in rice dumpling production so as to prevent health risk. Many countries (including China) have already prohibited the use of borax as a food additive. Meanwhile, the trade is reminded to maintain good personal hygiene before making rice dumplings. The trade should not use non-food grade chemical dyes (e.g. industrial grade copper sulphate or copper chloride) to soak the wrapping leaves for a bright green appearance. Wrapping leaves should be fully soaked before use, while rice dumplings should be thoroughly cooked until their core temperature reaches 75℃or above. Discard the ingredients immediately if they are spoiled, odorous or moldy.
The authorities also remind the public to purchase rice dumplings from reputable and hygienic shops. Read the labels carefully on pre-packaged rice dumplings during purchase, and pay attention to the expiry date and storage instruction. Do not buy rice dumplings that are from an unknown source, expired, odorous, improperly wrapped or with damaged wrapping leaves. Consume the purchased rice dumplings as soon as possible. If they are not for immediate consumption, they should be kept in a refrigerator at below 5℃ by following the "cooked food above, raw food below" principle.
In addition, since rice dumplings are not easy to digest and their ingredients are mostly high in cholesterol, fat and calories, excessive consumption of rice dumplings is not advisable, especially for the elderly and people with chronic diseases. Be aware of health and food safety while enjoying the Dragon Boat Festival!