The Consumer Council on Monday said it has found a metabolite of a veterinary drug in three sausage samples it tested, but noted there's insufficient proof that the drug would cause health risks to humans.
At a virtual press conference the council said it had recently tested 30 sausage products, and found three samples contained SEM – a metabolite of the veterinary drug nitrofurazone that has been banned in the mainland, EU and the US.
In one sample, the amount of SEM detected exceeded the EU’s “reference point for action” by 13 times.
"Research has shown that nitrofurazone could adversely affect the reproductive organs of laboratory animals, while its metabolite SEM could cause articular cartilage degeneration in laboratory animals, resulting in deformed limbs," said Lui Wing-cheong, vice-chairman of the council's research and testing committee.
"However, there is currently insufficient evidence of the effect and carcinogenicity of nitrofurans on humans."
The council that added nine out of ten samples were high-sodium and half of them were high-fat.
It said the test results had been referred to the Centre for Food Safety for follow-up.
Separately, the council urged parents to choose snacks for young children carefully, saying many products contain added sugar that shouldn't be consumed by those under the age of two, according to authorities in the US and Britain.
It said one-third of the 37 pre-packaged snacks it tested, including yoghurt melts and cereal snacks, were high in sugar.
Thirty percent of the samples also contained added salt, which should be avoided by infants under the age of one, it added.
The council's chief executive, Gilly Wong, said authorities should consider requiring food manufacturers to show how much sugar is in their products for children younger than 36 months.
"Right now the regulation does not require the presence of sugar content, the absolute value of the ingredient, we believe it's time to review the regulation to see whether there's any need to cover it so [the nutrition labels] give more information to parents to choose the right snacks for their kids," she said.
Wong said, in the meantime, parents can pay attention to the ranking of sugar in the ingredient list when buying baby snacks if they can't find it in the nutrition label, saying a higher ranking could mean more sugar content.