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Sunflower oil samples detected with harmful contaminant benzo[a]pyrene

This post refers to the press release from The Centre for Food Safety (CFS).

The CFS announced on 7th July, 2016 (Thur) that three bottled sunflower oil samples were detected to contain a harmful contaminant, benzo[a]pyrene (BaP). The CFS advised public stop consuming these products. While stores should stop using, selling and take them off shelf immediately.

Product details are as follows: ​(We tried to find photo of the products online as CFS not provided)

goccia d'oro Sunflower Oil

(1) Product name: Sunflower Oil Brand: goccia d'oro Place of origin: Italy Importer: Organic Gardens International Ltd Lot number: L.001793 188 Volume: 1 litre per bottle Best-before date: January 31, 2017

Bio Planete organic Sunflower Oil virgin

(2) Product name: organic Sunflower Oil virgin Brand: Bio Planete Place of origin: France Importer: Panway Corporation Ltd Lot number: 49370033 EP Volume: 500 millilitres per bottle Best-before date: May 31, 2017

Da Agricoltura Sunflower Seed Oil - Organic

(3) Product name: Sunflower Seed Oil - Organic Brand: Da Agricoltura Place of origin: Italy Distributor: Lorence & Company Lot number: L04216 Volume: 750 millilitres per bottle Best-before date: August 11, 2017

What will be done?

The standard procedure of incident like this will be: The CFS, stores, and importers will carry out an investigation using record and traceability system. After that, CFS will evaluate that the risk of second incident is low, e.g. whether it is an independent event, or sources of incident eliminated. If the risk is low, selling of these products will be permitted.

Exceeding action level of Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) A spokesman for the CFS said, "The CFS collected the abovementioned samples from two retail outlets in Central for testing. The test results showed that the 'goccia d'oro' sample contained BaP at a level of 13 micrograms per kilogram (µg/kg) while the 'Bio Planete' and 'Da Agricoltura' samples were found to contain the contaminant at a level of 22µg/kg and 26µg/kg respectively, all exceeding the action level of 10µg/kg established by the CFS after consulting the Expert Committee on Food Safety."

What is Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP)? Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) is a kind of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are contaminants ubiquitous in the environment. BaP is toxic to genes and can cause cancer in human. The International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization has classified BaP as "carcinogenic to human". The intake of BaP should be avoided as far as practicable.

How much BaP it takes to cause a health risk? The spokesman pointed out that if an edible oil sample is found to contain BaP at a level equal or greater than 20µg/kg, the derived Margin of Exposure will be lower than 10 000, indicating a possible public health concern.

What is existing penalty? According to Section 54 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132), all food for sale in Hong Kong, locally produced or imported, must be fit for human consumption. An offender is subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months upon conviction.

Enjoi comments:

Our previous post talked about the benzo[a]pyrene. (Click here) As the CFS stated in the last post, several oils including Peanut oil, Corn oil, Grapeseed oil, Sunflower oil, Olive pomace oil, have high level of BaP.

Noted that levels in oils can be much reduced after oil refining processes BUT ultimate level would depend on the conditions under which refining take place and quality control.

Enjoi as a manufacturer of sunflower oil, we carefully handle our oils during refinery to eliminate the risk of contamination.

Everyone should choose your oil supplier more wisely.

Healthy oils healthy life!

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