Selangor Journal

Health Ministry: Sulphur dioxide safe within recommended quantity

BY: NORHAYATI UMOR
SHAH ALAM, JAN 18: The usage of sulphur dioxide in certain quantities, not exceeding 30mg/kg, is allowed for use in food preservation.
The Director General of Health, Noor Hisham Abdullah said the substance is not dangerous to humans if used within the recommended quantity. However, sensitive individuals may experience breathlessness if it is inhaled or swallowed.
“The 1985 Food Regulations under the 1983 Food Act, allows sulphur dioxide to be used as preservative in certain foods. These include fresh fruit such as mandarin oranges, where the substance cannot exceed 30 mg/kg.
“This sulphur dioxide has been analysed and certified safe for use in food under dosage recommended the by international agency, Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additive (JECFA).
“Sulphur dioxide is not dangerous to humans when used within the recommended quantity. However, it can cause breathlessness for people who are sensitive when it is inhaled or swallowed,” he said in a statement.
Noor Hisham said that in response to news which has been going viral on social media which claim that mandarin oranges contain sulphur dioxide.
He said under sub-regulation 20(6) of Food Regulations 1985, each container of food, including mandarin oranges which has been treated with sulphur dioxide not exceeding 10mg/kg, must be labelled with the statement ‘contains sulphur dioxide’, to protect consumers who are sensitive to the substance.
“Anyone who fails to comply can be fined not more than RM5,000 or jailed not exceeding two years,” he said.
Meanwhile, sub-regulation 11(1)(j) of the 1985 Food Regulations requires imported food including mandarin oranges to be labelled with the name and address of packager and importer, including country of origin.
“In this matter, anyone fixing fake labels can be jailed not exceeding three (3) years or fined, or both, as stipulated under Section 16, 1983 Food Act.
“It is the responsibility of the parties involved, such as importers, agents, retailers and others to ensure the mandarin oranges being imported and sold in the market comply with our food regulations,” he said.
He said inspections conducted in 2015 and 2016 had found no trace of sulphur dioxide on mandarin oranges.
“The Health Ministry (KKM) is nevertheless, still monitoring the mandarin oranges in the market to ensure that they are safe for consumption,” he said.

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