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Hong Kong discontinues oyster import from Namibia

Hong Kong discontinues oyster import from Namibia

WINDHOEK: After the laboratory tests detected a high percentage of cadmium in oyster samples, the Centre for Food Safety of Hong Kong Administration has brought a standstill to the imports of live oysters from the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia.

“The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (December 24) that, further to the detection of cadmium, a heavy metal, in a raw oyster sample earlier, another raw oyster sample taken from the same 1/8Hong Kong 3/8 food factory was again found to contain cadmium exceeding the legal limit,” the CFS said late Wednesday in a press statement posted on its website.

“The raw oyster sample detected with excessive cadmium this time and the unsatisfactory sample taken from the same premises earlier were both harvested from Walvis Bay harbour in Namibia,” the CFS said.

“Upon confirmation of the source of the concerned food, the CFS has suspended import of oysters from Walvis Bay harbour since December 23 and continued surveillance of oysters imported from Namibia at retail level.”

Cadmium is a heavy metal that is produced during the smelting of other metals like zinc and copper.

Cadmium is most frequently used in the manufacture of nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries and longer exposure can as well as intake through water and food containing cadmium can adversely impact on kidneys and bones in humans.

“The CFS has notified the Namibian authorities of the test results and its decisions. Unless the CFS is satisfied with investigation and control measures taken by the Namibian authorities, the relevant import restriction will not be lifted,” the Hong Kong authority stated.

Namibia has a small but well-established oyster industry exporting thousands of live oysters to South Africa and Asian markets, where they are regarded as a delicacy.