Eat less sausages if you want to live longer

There are many kinds of sausages, the public should choose carefully.

Sausages with high sodium and high fat cannot be eaten without sausages, such as sausage noodles and sausage buns. However, the government’s lack of food safety control can cause people to eat sausages at any time. If you want to live longer, eat less sausages. The Consumer Council tested 30 types of sausages on the market. In addition to finding that nearly 90% of them were “high-sodium” foods, 3 types of sausages were also found to be the metabolite “Semicarbazide (SEM)” of the veterinary drug “Furacilin” banned in the Mainland and Europe and the United States. The articular cartilage of animals is degenerated and the limbs are deformed, and the SEM content of related samples is 3 to 13 times higher than the EU standard. The Consumer Council urges the Hong Kong government to set a target for the SEM content of food. Members urged the Centre for Food Safety to review the mechanism for random inspection of food, and to intercept problematic food as soon as possible.

Three sausage samples were found to contain SEM, namely “Royal Royal Honey Chicken Sausage”, “Alfresco Chilled Chicken Sausage”, and “Chef Brand Premium Chicken Sausage”; they contained 4 micrograms and 6.1 micrograms per kilogram, respectively. And the SEM of 14 micrograms is 3 times, 5.1 times and 13 times higher than the EU standard of 0.1 micrograms per kilogram, respectively.

Veterinary drugs may cause joint degeneration and limb deformation

The veterinary drug “nitrofuran” is a kind of “nitrofuran antibiotics”, and the research indicates that it may damage the reproductive organs of experimental animals, and its metabolite SEM may degenerate the articular cartilage and deform the limbs of experimental animals. However, the current legislation in Hong Kong on “nitrofuran antibiotics” does not contain “nitrofuran” in food.

Suspected smoking caused two samples to contain carcinogens

In addition to veterinary drugs, City’super, a German-made smoked sausage, and TOPVALU, a Japanese-made refrigerated sausage, were found to have carcinogenic and genotoxic “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons”, but they did not exceed the EU limit. The Consumer Council estimates The contaminants are related to their fumigation manufacture.

Mr. Lei Wing-cheong, Vice Chairman of the Research and Test Group of the Consumer Council, said that the veterinary drug “nitrofuracil” only exists in animals for a short period of time, so only its metabolite SEM can be tested. Lei admitted that the SEM of food can also come from other sources, including food processing, such as refrigeration and freezing after slaughtering poultry. The Director-General of the Consumer Council, Huang Fengxian, pointed out that SEM also exists in crustaceans such as crayfish, flour, and even styrofoam gaskets.

Huang advised citizens to assess the risks by themselves, saying that it would be safest to stop eating the sausages, “but I feel that there is a small amount left at home, and it is another decision to choose carefully when buying after eating.” She said the relevant results have been forwarded to the Food Safety Center for follow-up She also suggested that the government refer to the EU’s practice and set relevant action levels for antibiotics such as “nitrofuracil” and their metabolites.

Food Safety Spot Checks Have No Problems

The Centre for Food Safety stated that the laws of Hong Kong stipulate that “furazolidone” and “furatadone” cannot be detected in foods such as pork and poultry. All samples are qualified.

Yeung Wing-kit, a member of the Legislative Council Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene, believes that the incident reflects a loophole in the spot checks conducted by the Centre for Food Safety. He pointed out that the Center for Food Safety mainly sampled all kinds of food samples and found no abnormality, but the Consumer Council’s inspection found that the harmful substances exceeded the standard. He questioned the effectiveness of the random inspection mechanism, or failed to protect the health of the public, and urged the Food and Health Bureau to improve the food spot inspection mechanism so as to intercept food with excessive harmful substances as soon as possible.

Another member, Shao Ka-fai, pointed out that the authorities should closely follow international food safety standards to update local policies, but believed that they should not blindly follow the levels of relevant substances in foreign countries. It also said that if the food does not exceed the standard, it should be allowed to continue to be sold.

The agent of Yupinhuang replied to the Consumer Council that it confirmed that the products mentioned in the test report complied with the laws and requirements of Hong Kong; the manufacturer of alfresco pointed out that the US Department of Agriculture had banned any “nitrofuran” veterinary drugs in 2002, and A survey in 2018 revealed that SEM may be generated during the processing of poultry raw materials, so trace amounts of SEM were detected in the product. The agent of Chef Brand stated that, according to its information, the test results of the Consumer Council were partially different from the nutrition label of its products. City’super said that its products are produced by the traditional smoking process, which naturally produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and the test results meet local and EU standards, proving that the products are safe to eat.


The SEM content of Chef’s Premium Chicken Sausage is 13 times higher than the EU standard. (Photo by Li Zhiyong)


The manufacturer of alfresco said that semicarbazide may be produced during the processing of poultry raw materials.


The lack of food safety checks can cause people to eat their intestines and eat at any time.


Sausages containing veterinary drug metabolites and carcinogens

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