Environment & Health Hong Kong

Chinese white cabbage sample exceeds pesticide residue legal limit

The Centre for Food Safety has detected excessive pesticide residue levels in a Chinese white cabbage sample on Monday. The Centre confirmed it would follow up its investigation by tracing its sources and distribution.

The sample was tested under the Centre’s regular Food Surveillance Programme. “Test results showed that the sample contained chlorpyrifos at a level of 0.21 parts per million, [which is] 2.1 times the maximum residue limit of 0.1 parts per million,” said a spokesman. 

However, the spokesman stated that the observed excessive levels will not cause adverse health effects “under normal consumption.” 

chinese white cabbage

Chinese white cabbage. Photo: Scot Nelson via flickr.

The spokesman offered the public advice to against the harmful effects of pesticide residues in vegetables. “Members of the public could rinse vegetables several times under running water, then soak them in water for one hour,” he said. Alternatively, one could choose to immerse the vegetables briefly in boiling water for one minute before disposing the water. To guard against taking in pesticide residues, the public is also advised to get rid of vegetable peels.

The Centre’s regular Food Surveillance Programme operates under the requirement of the Pesticide residues in Food Regulation (Cap. 132CM) since its enactment on August 1 2014. Among the 24,100 samples of fruits and vegetables, the Centre reported an overall unsatisfactory rate of “less than 0.4%.” According to section 4 of the Regulation, any person who imports or sells food exceeding pesticide residue limits is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and to 6-months imprisonment. These maximum residue limits are set out in the Regulation, with specific descriptions of the food, pesticide and residue. 

Chlorpyrifos, the concerned pesticide, is known for its detrimental effects to the nervous system. The pesticide blocks the human brain’s ability to freely control nerve impulses. An overdose of chlorpyrifos particularly affect young children due to the continuing development of their nervous systems. Symptoms of exposure to Chlorpyrifos include headaches, tiredness and nausea.


Chinese white cabbage sample exceeds pesticide residue legal limit