False papers used to export chicken feet
Ten consignments of mostly Brazilian chicken feet intended for pet consumption were exported to Hong Kong using forged health certificates, according to the Centre for Food Safety.
The center received a complaint from a local food importer in May about a suspicious health certificate accompanying a consignment of frozen chicken feet from Brazil that was imported earlier this year.
The center requested Brazilian authorities to follow up on the incident and was informed recently that the health certificate was falsified and the related consignment of frozen chicken feet was pet food.
Center assistant director Sarah Choi Mei-yee said 10 consignments of products were pet food and had been exported from Brazil to Hong Kong by the exporter listed on the health certificate.
They comprised eight consignments of frozen chicken feet, a consignment of cattle offal products and a consignment of pig offal products and pig feet.
All the health certificates were issued on or before March 21.
Among them, six consignments of frozen chicken feet and two consignments of livestock offal products were re-exported to the mainland and Vietnam, and one consignment of frozen chicken feet is being kept in the container terminal and has not entered the market.
The remaining consignment of about 27 tonnes of frozen chicken feet had been sold to a buyer.
The center currently has no information where the concerned consignment ended up. But Choi said it has not been found on sale in the local market so far.
"We have contacted 20 local retailers and none had purchased the chicken feet involved," she said.
The center immediately suspended the import of products to Hong Kong by the exporter, Lamajo Comercial, and two Brazilian production plants, SIF2421 and SIF2498, as listed in those health certificates. They also requested the Brazilian authorities to investigate the authenticity of the health certificates of the other nine consignments exported to Hong Kong as soon as possible.
The case was referred to police. An investigation by Mong Kok district crime squad is under way.
The center's consultant doctor Samuel Yeung Tse-kiu said animal food should not be used for human consumption, but the impact on human health is low.
Chicken feet are not usually consumed by Westerners and so they were mainly packed for animal consumption, he said.
"In Hong Kong, we normally wash and cook them before eating them. The risk to food safety is not expected to be high."
In March this year, a scandal involving rotten meat from Brazil led many places, including China and Hong Kong, to ban the meat from the South American country.