Hong Kong Consumer Council Detects Carcinogenic Chemicals in Biscuits

Monday, January 28th, 2019 | 1481 Views

According to a report released by Hong Kong Consumer Council, 90 percent of 58 cookies and biscuits sampled between August and October last year contained glycidol and acrylamide which increases the risk of cancer. Furthermore, traces of 3-MCPD were also found in 35 types of biscuits which can damage the kidney and affect male fertility. These chemicals are by-products of the manufacturing process, generated from heating oil at high temperatures during refining. However, no standards have been set by the World Health Organisation to limit the intake of these chemicals and the Consumer Council warns the public to consume as little as possible.

Hence, bakeries in Hong Kong have been asked to change the ingredients used in producing cookies and biscuits. Clement Chan Kam-Wing, Chairman of the council’s publicity and community relations committee advices ‘manufacturers study the production process and try to replace the cooking oil’. Furthermore, glycidol and 3-MCPD were found in almost 20 types of margarine sold in Hong Kong. As such, the Council recommends manufacturers to use healthier alternatives such as butter to make cookies, instead of shortening oil, margarine and refine vegetable oil which are the main types of oil often used. Acrylamide is also widely found in other food such as coffee and chips. According to Wang Mingfu, Associate Professor at Hong Kong University’s school of biological science, although studies have shown that acrylamide causes cancer in animals, its effects on humans are still unclear.

Out of 46 cookies and biscuits pre-packaged models, over 60 percent were mislabelled. The sugar, sodium and fat content declared on nutrition labels of these snacks were different from that measured.  Nutritional labels also often fail to list all of the nutritional content of the product. Chan describes these as ‘unsatisfactory practices.’

Not only were carcinogenic substances found in the sampled snacks, all 58 samples tested were either high in fat or sugar, or both. The Council recommend consumers to be careful with the amount of snacks consumed and check the recommended serving sizes as the sugar, sodium and fat content should not be underestimated.