Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited

Full Reports

World Green Organisation commissions Vitargent as technical support to analyse a spectrum of specific consumer products. Through our proprietary bio-testing technology, we aim to safeguard health of consumers with a higher safety standard and smarting testing technology.

Vitargent published safe to buy list of face cream rated “Green Fish” (Hong Kong, 13 March 2018) Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited (“Vitargent”) published test results of 30 popular face cream products under 30 brands available in the market on its Test-it™ information platform (www.fishqc.com). Known for its recent nine safety examinations of cooking oil, BB cream, instant coffee, sunscreen, ice cream, lip balm, milk products, lipsticks and infant milk powder, Vitargent has applied the “transgenic medaka” and “zebrafish” embryo toxicity testing technology, which is unique in the world and developed by Hong Kong scientists. Based on the agreed scope and procedures with Vitargent, PricewaterhouseCoopers has compared the test results performed by Vitargent to the classification of tested products into green, yellow and red fish according to Test-it Standard and the numerical figures presented within the “Finding of Test-it” session in this report. The safety test rated 17 samples as Green Fish (excellent), 1 sample as Yellow Fish (basic) and 12 samples as Red Fish (sub-optimal). Multiple samples contained international prohibited and restricted ingredients, carcinogenic ingredients and xenoestrogenic ingredients. Various international studies had proven that xenoestrogens are easily absorbed by the human body, found in breast milk, breast tissue, cord blood and even placenta, threatening the health of the next generation. Vitargent suggests the public to pay extra attention to the ingredient labels upon choosing face creams for consumption. It is advised to choose products with basic functionality and less preservatives, sunscreen, spices or alcohol. Skin damaging ingredients found in face cream Vitargent detected toxicity with innovative bio-testing technology Testing 2.0 Wrinkles, dry skin and skin scraping could result from ageing and seasonal changes. Applying decent amount of face cream moisturises and protects the skin. Apart from brand preferences, skin type and price, some consumers make their face cream choices based on the special features listed on the ingredient labels. For example: skin tightening, moisturizing, whitening, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, allergy relief and sunscreen. However, the public may overlook the risk of health threats from the special features chemicals. From July to August 2017, Vitargent collected 30 samples from 30 brands for toxicity tests from local Watsons, cosmetic counters and online platforms (Joyby, Tmall). The brands included SK-II、Estee Lauder、Laneige,FANCL.   Vitargent performed tests on face cream samples by adopting the Testing 2.0 technology, which is a patented fish embryo bio-testing technology. Under which, samples are categorised as Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to product safety. The test result was published on the online consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™, for consumers to recognise safe products sold by retailers. Test-it™ benchmarks against the national and regional product safety standards, including those imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO)[1], the European Union (EU), the USA[2], China[3] and Japan[4], as well as the list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) [5]prepared by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Horizontal analysis against similar products was also conducted to establish safety standards:  
➢    Green Fish means “Excellence” in terms of safety, indicating good performance in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase;
➢    Yellow Fish means “Basic” in terms of safety, meaning a product meets the safety baselines in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution;
➢    Red Fish means “Sub-Optimal” in terms of safety, indicating a product is below standard in one or more criteria in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.
    Mid-priced face creams are safer compared to low-priced and high-priced samples Brands origin and place of production differs Among the 30 samples, Test-it™ rated 17 samples as Green Fish (Excellent), 1 sample as Yellow Fish (Basic) and 12 samples as Red Fish (Sub-optimal). In terms of price, the average price of the 30 samples purchased was 6.3HKD/g. The most expensive one costed 50HKD/g, which was nearly 500 times of the cheapest one which costed 0.1HKD/g. Among the 10 samples that costed less than 2.7HKD/g, 4 (40%) samples were rated Green Fish, 6 (60%) were rated Red Fish. Among the 10 samples that costed between 2.7HKD/g and 5.8HKD/g, 8 samples (80%) were rated Green Fish, 2 (20%) were rated Red Fish. Among the 10 samples costed more than 5.8HKD/g, 5 samples (50%) were rated Green Fish, 1 (10%) was rated Yellow Fish and 4 (40%) were rated Red Fish. In conclusion, the safety of the mid-priced samples was relatively higher than low-priced and high-priced samples, with nearly 80% samples rated as Green Fish. Low-priced and high-priced samples rate of Red Fish are 60% and 40% respectively. The public are suggested to purchase with caution.   In terms of brand origins, samples under the test were from Asia, Europe, America and Oceania Among the 15 samples of Asian brands (China, Japan and Korea), 12(80%) of them were rated Green Fish, 3 (20%) were rated Red Fish. Among the 6 samples of European brands (France, UK) 3 (50%) were rated Green Fish while 3 (50%) were rated Red Fish. Among the 7 samples of American brands (US), 2 (29%) were rated Green Fish, 5 (71%) were rated Red Fish. Among the 2 samples of Oceania (Australia, New Zealand) 1 (50%) was rated Yellow Fish and 1 (50%) was rated Red Fish. As to the place of production, face cream produced in Asia, Europe, America and Oceania were tested. Among the 30 sample, 18 samples were manufactured in Asia (China, Japan, Korea and Indonesia). 12 were rated Green Fish (67%), 6 (33%) were rated Red Fish. For the 5 samples produced in Europe (France, UK), 3 were rated Green Fish (60%) while 2 were rated Red Fish. (40%) Among the 5 samples manufactured in America(US), 2 samples (40%) were rated Green Fish, 3 (60%) were rated Red Fish. 2 samples were produced in Oceana (Australia, New Zealand). 1 (50%) was rated Yellow Fish and 1 (50%) was rated Red Fish. In conclusion of brand origins and production comparison, due to the insignificant amount of samples from a certain regions, the result does not reflect the differences between the two. However, Asian and European samples showed a well-balanced overall performance. It is a good sign for the public.   Multiple face cream samples contained Paraben preservatives May lead to reproductive cancers and infant deformities Vitargent’s Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Tao said, “Zebrafish embryo and transgenic medaka embryo were used in the acute toxicants and chronic toxicants tests of face cream samples. In the zebrafish embryo test for acute toxicants, 2 samples failed the toxicity test. Our team observed under the microscope that, when zebrafish embryos are exposed to acute toxicants in face cream samples, they developed abnormally and suffered from blood clotting disorders, heart swelling and even death. As 84% of genes known to be associated with human diseases have a zebrafish counterpart, substances which are harmful to zebrafish may also be harmful to human. The process of zebrafish puberty imitates that of human’s. One day of zebrafish puberty is equivalent to 12 weeks of infant puberty (3months). Their tissues and organs including heart, bones, glands and kidney functions and reacts biologically identical to humans. Thus any toxicant that harms a zebrafish would pose the same health threat to a human being.   In the transgenic medic embryo for chronic toxicants, 6 samples failed the toxicity test. When transgenic embryos are exposed to the chronic toxicants (xenoestrongens) in the face cream, their liver glows in green. The glow intensity quantifies toxicants in the samples. The World Health Organization had stated that xenoestrogen could lead to health threats including cancers ( breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, thyroid cancer etc.), decreased reproductive ability, nervous system dysfunction and diabetes[6].”   “We have anticipated the test results, since some of the samples contained chemical preservatives, toxicity in samples would increase under both individual and compound effects. During the randomly sampling, our team discovered 18 samples contained different chemical preservatives. 6 of which contained internationally prohibited ingredients. Isobutylaparaben (found in 1 sample) is banned by EU[7] and China[8] in year 2014 and 2015 respectively. Methylisothiazolinone, MI (found in 3 samples) was listed as prohibited10 ingredient by the EU in year 2016. Ci 14700 / red 4 was listed as prohibited10 by the EU in year 2009. Orange 4 was banned by the US[9] Furthermore, other common preservatives were also found in the face cream samples, including Butylated hydroxytoluene, BHT (found in 2 samples), DMDMH (found in 1 sample) and Paraben preservatives (found in 11 samples). BHT could lead to skin rashes and allergies[10]. International toxicology studies indicate that excessive intake could lead to accelerated tumor growth in lung cancers[11]. EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, SCCS had proven that DMDMH could release formaldehyde carcinogen that causes skin stimulation and leads cancers with chronic consumption. Paraben is a known xenoestrogen that could lead to health threats listed above including cancers. Pregnant women may even pass the xenoestrogen on to the next generation. It is scientifically proven that these substances are found in breast milk[12], breast tissues[13], cord blood[14] and even in the placenta[15], taken in through the baby’s brain, respiratory system, intestines and skin. It could cause health problems like development deformity or precocious puberty and obesity.”   Jimmy Tao pointed out that the current regulation of cosmetics, skin care products and slimming health food in Hong Kong is underdeveloped. New amendments are already made in other countries to regulate Paraben preservatives. Denmark became the first[16] to ban Paraben preservatives in children products since 2012. According to EU’s cosmetic regulations EC1223/2009 and China’s cosmetic safety regulations, 5 Paraben preservatives were banned since year 2014 and 2015. The preservatives included Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Phenylparaben, Benzylparaben and Pentylparaben. Currently, Propylparaben and Methylparabena are the most commonly used paraben preservatives. The public can make smart choices by carefully examining the ingredient labels.   On one more note, allergen (6 samples) and wax (3 samples) were found in the face cream samples. Eugenol Eugenol, Coumarin, hydroxycitronellal, Geraniol, Citronellol, Benzyl Alcohol, D-limonene limonene are known allergens for fragrance enhancement which lead to skin allergy[17], itch and pigmented cosmetic dermatitis. Wax including Petroleum jelly and petrolatum are low cost and common moisturizers, however they are ineffective in terms of locking in the moisture. Compared to other skin tissues, lips are more sensitive to allergies.   World Health Organization listed estrogen as group 1 carcinogen Implement skin protection by learning the ingredient labels Dermatologist Dr. Hui Shiu Kee indicates that the commonly known estrogen mainly refers to the hormones from the female ovaries. Apart from natural secretion, many chemicals including Paraben preservatives and chemical sunscreens share similar chemical structure with estrogen. Once inside the human body, they imitate estrogen and similarly affects organs and tissues. These chemicals are known as “xenoestrogens”. There are a lot of estrogen receptors on the skin. External intake of xenoestrogens could lead to hyperpiasia, making the skin more moisturised and elastic. However, they come with long lasting side effects. Chronic consumption could lead to cancers including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, reduction in reproduction ability, and increased chances of stroke. Furthermore, pregnant women, infants and teenagers going through puberty are most affected by endocrine disruptors (i.e. xenoestrogens). They may lead to disruption in endocrine, physiological imbalance, obesity and precocious puberty. Women may also suffer menstruation disruption as a cause. World Health Organization had listed estrogen as group 1 carcinogen[18].  Dr Hui said that estrogen enter the body through oral intake or external use. Patients undergoing treatments with estrogen should follow doctors’ instructions for the correct amount of intake.   Dr Hui explained that the main function of face creams is to act as a natural barrier for the skin. It forms a thin mask over the skin surface, reduces water loss and helps moisturising. A good face cream must contain the functions of moisturising and softening. Moisturisers help absorbing water deep into the dermis. The most common ones are propylene glycol, glycerin and butylene glycol. Softeners are usually added into face creams to smoothen the skin surface to make it soft and elastic. The most common ones are jojoba oil or was. Furthermore, some face creams contain natural or compound preservatives. To a certain extent, preservatives protects the product as they prolong bacteria growth or spoiling from chemical changes. However, there are good and bad preservatives. The public should recognise toxic preservatives (i.e. Paraben) and pay attention to ingredient labels on the face creams. Be alert about the major ingredients on the top (represents high percentage in the formula), prevent additives including fragrances, alcohol, alcohol dent etc, and choose products fit for their own skin type.   Dr Hui reminded the public that face creams with stimulants including spices, alcohol, preservatives or sunscreens are not suitable for skins with allergy or eczema. To sample a new face cream brand, first apply on the back of the hand or on the soft skin of the inner forearm. Then, let it sit for 30 minutes. If it does not cause allergy reactions, rashes or burning, it is safe to use. Furthermore, some parents moisturise their children’s faces with adult face creams. Since children’s skin is more sensitive, the spices and preservatives in adult face creams may lead to allergic reactions, eczema or contact dermatitis. Parents should avoid applying adult face creams on their children and apply children face creams with simple ingredients. In general, twice a day is adequate for skin treatment. However, the high humidity in Hong Kong might lead to high face cream loss rate. Apply more face creams in case of excessive sweating, extra dry circumstances and partaking water sports. Do not excessively apply or it will clog the pores.   For detailed product list of Green Fish which passed the acute toxicants, chronic toxicants tests and ingredients check, please visit the online consumer product safety information platform Test-it™ at www.fishqc.com for a wise choice.  

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[1] CODEX STAN 192-1995. General Standard for Food Additives.
[2] USFDA Food additive status list, Color Additives in Food, and Everything added to food in the United States (EAFUS).
[3] GB 2760-2014. 食品安全标准:食品添加剂使用标准.
[4] Standards for use, according to use categories.  Effective from September 26, 2016.
[5] European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Candidate list of substances of very high concern for authorization. https://echa.europa.eu/candidate-list-table
[6] WHO & UNEP. State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals-2012
[7] EC No .358/2014. Commission Regulation (EU) No 358/2014 of 9 April 2014 amending Annexes II and V to Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on cosmetic products.
[8] 化妝品安全技術規範. 2015版.
[9] USFDA, Status of color additives. December 2015.
[10] EFSA Journal 2012;10(3):2588.
[11] Toxicology. 2001, 169: 1–15.
[12] Chimia 2008, 62: 345-351.
[13] Journal of Applied Toxicology. 2012, 32(3):219-232.
[14] Journal of Applied Toxicology. 2012, 32(3):219-232.
[15] Journal of Applied Toxicology. 2012, 32(3):219-232.
[16] http://healthland.time.com/2010/12/22/parabens-outlawed-in-childrens-products-in-denmark/
[17] http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/List_of_Classifications.pdf
[18] http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/List_of_Classifications.pdf
" target="_blank">40% face cream failed bio-toxicity tests. Internationally banned ingredient found in face cream products. Chronically intake may lead to vulvar and vaginal cancers
 Vitargent published safe to buy list follow-on formula milk powder rated “Green Fish”   (Hong Kong, 02 February 2018) Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited (“Vitargent”) published new test results following the previous investigation in cooking oil, BB cream, instant coffee, sunscreen, ice cream, lip balm, liquid milk products and lipstick. Vitargent performs toxicity tests on 16 milk powder samples from 11 renowned brands in the market with the application of unique in the world “transgenic medaka” and “zebrafish” embryo toxicity testing technology developed by Hong Kong scientist. Follow-on formula milk powder (Formula 2) for 6 to 12 month-olds is the main focus of the toxicity test. All powder milk samples passed the safety requirements according to the test results. Among the samples, 14 are rated “Green Fish” (excellence) in terms of safety and 2 are rated “Yellow Fish” (basic). The differences in safety ratings are determined by the acute toxicity test of zebrafish embryos. With reference to international toxicology data and reports, it is suspected that the toxic reaction might have resulted by individual or combined effects of major ingredients including milk or fat derived from various vegetable oils. Green Fish mark is recommended for consumers as a sign of quality product. The majority of standard infant formula milk powder in the market are artificially produced with nutritional ingredients found in breast milk in addition to milk extract. The current trend of infant formula milk powder in the Hong Kong market targets at different age group, with follow-on formula milk powder as the main focus in sales and advertisement. Since imported powder milk are required to meet the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), there are no distinct variation in the nutritional ingredients between different brands. Vitargent collected samples from 11 renowned powder milk brands including Mead Johnson, Friso, Abbott, Cow & Gate, Wyeth etc, from the Mannings Store, Watsons Store, Eugene Baby and local pharmacies in Hong Kong from December 2017 to January 2018. A total of 16 follow-on formula milk powder were being sampled (Formula 2, for 6 to 12 month-olds). Three of which are stated as suitable for 0 to 12 month-olds (2 samples) and 6 to 18 month-olds (1 sample). Vitargent performed tests on formula milk powder samples by adopting the Testing 2.0 technology, which is a patented fish embryo bio-testing technology. Under which, samples are categorised as Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to product safety. The test result was published on the online consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™, for consumers to recognise safe products sold by retailers. Test-it™ benchmarks against the national and regional product safety standards, including those imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO)1, 2, 3, the European Union (EU)4,5,6,7,8, the USA9, China 10,11,12,13 and Japan14, as well as the list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC)15. Horizontal analysis against similar products was also conducted to establish safety standards:   Green Fish means “Excellent” in terms of safety, indicating good performance in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and ingredient check. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase; Yellow Fish means “Basic” in terms of safety, indicating good performance in the screening of chronic toxicity, while meeting the safety baseline in acute toxicity and ingredient check. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution; Red Fish means “Sub-Optimal” in terms of safety, indicating a product is below standard in one or more criteria in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and ingredient check. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.     Excellent overall performance for follow-on formula milk powder Quality of milk extract and vegetable oil may affect toxicity rating Vitargent’s Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Tao said, “The average price of the test samples is 43HKD/100g. The most expensive sample costs 62HKD/100g and the cheapest costs 26HKD/100g, showing more than a double in the price differences. In terms of place of production, samples were produced from Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, Ireland, Japan and China. In terms of brand origins, samples under the test were from Netherlands, Germany, The United States, China, England, Switzerland and Japan. They are all sold in Hong Kong.” Jimmy Tao also said, ““Zebrafish embryo and transgenic medaka embryo were used in the acute toxicant and chronic toxicant tests of milk powder samples. With the safety benchmark drawn from our internal baby milk powder data, the follow results were found: fourteen (87.5%) samples were rated Green Fish, two (12.5%) were rated Yellow Fish. All samples in the transgenic medaka embryo chronic tests had successfully met the WHO safety benchmark. No estrogen were detected, which would have resulted in a glow of green fluorescent in the embryo’s liver. For the ingredient screening. According to the standards (CODEX STAN 72-1981) and (CODEX STAN 156-1987) from the Codex Alimentarius Commission, in addition to the baby formula safety standards in EU, China, USA and Japan, no prohibited and highly concerned ingredients were found in the samples.” Jimmy Tao emphasized, “The overall performance of the milk powder test is excellent. However, the differences between Green Fish rating and Yellow Fish rating reflected toxicants were detected in the acute toxicity test. The toxic reaction is undoubtedly a result of individual or combined effect.” According to the food labelling regulations in Europe16, USA17 and Hong Kong18, each ingredient must be listed proportionately according to the weight and size, from the highest proportion to the lowest. Milk extract (skimmed milk and powdered milk) are listed on the top of the label. According to the liquid milk and milk products test results from last year, toxicity level of milk varies. Multiple international toxicology reports on milk reveals that there are other toxicity risks in milk products. Toxicants found in milk include the well-known microcin (aflatoxin)19, residues of veterinary drug20,21, pesticides residues22,23 and other unknown contaminants including melamine24, we have every reason to believe that contaminated milk is the cause of the additional toxicity. Another main ingredient of milk powder is fat, usually consist of various vegetable oils (including soybean oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, rapeseed oil, and palm oil) combined. “According to Vitargent’s edible oil data, the test result of coconut oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and palm oil were below average. It indicates that vegetable oils might increase the risk of toxicity. We therefore recommend Green Fish milk powder for safe consumption.Jimmy Tao added.     Caution with formula choices: Advertised formula might contain ingredients unnecessary for baby’s growth Andrew Li, Registered Nutritionist said, “breast milk is the first choice of nutrition for babies since it covers every nutrient an infant needs for growth in the first 6 months since birth. However, if breast milk is unavailable to the baby, milk powder is a good substitution.  In general, newborn to 6 month-olds are safe to consume infant formula. However, be cautious not to feed them “follow-on formula”, which is rich in protein. High protein milk powder can overburden the infant’s kidney. It may lead to intestinal inflammation or brain damage even. For 6 to 12 month-olds, both infant formula and follow-on formula are safe to consume depending on their developmental needs. Milk is the main source of nutrition for a newborn. When liquid and solid food is introduced into a baby’s diet, intake of milk can be reduced. After the baby turned one years old, a well-balanced and diversified solid food diet can substitute milk as the major source of food. Infant can switch to drinking whole milk (UHT Processed) to obtain enough fat for growth.” Andrew Li remarked, “UHT processed milk might lead to a loss in water-soluble vitamins and reduce the nutrition intake. In addition, since the infants’ immune systems are underdeveloped, they might be allergic to milk protein and suffer from eczema. Soy milk is recommended as a substitute for those with milk protein allergy, irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance.” Andrew Li concluded, “The major nutritional ingredients of milk powder include protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. These are the basic nutrients for every ISO standard mass produce milk powder. However, some formula powder in the market emphasizes on additional ingredients that imitates breast milk or custom for infant’s growth, which is completely unnecessary. For example, probiotic, nucleotide, taurine, amino acids, oligosaccharides, polysaccharides and polyglucose.” “The advertised additional formula aren’t necessarily the more the better. Since some additional nutrients are very low in content. Not to mention some additional ingredients are synthetic instead of natural. for example: vitamin A, B or C. Infants might not be able to fully absorb the synthetic ingredients. Therefore, parents can choose milk powder with well-balanced nutritional ingredients according to Codex Alimentarius Commission standard. Food additives found in milk powder including surfactant, stabilizer, and acidity regulator are not harmful to infants. Parents need not to worry about that.”    

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Reference:
1 CODEX STAN 192-1995. General Standard for Food Additives.
2 CODEX STAN 156 – 1987 (Revision: 2017).  Codex Alimentarius. Standard for follow-on formula.
3 CODEX STAN 72 – 1981 (Revision: 2007).  Codex Alimentarius. Standard for infant formula and formulas for special medical purposes intended for infants.
4 Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on food additives. Official Journal of the European Union. L 354/16. 31.12.2008.
5 Commission Regulation (EU) No 1130/2011 of 11 November 2011. amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on food additives by establishing a Union list of food additives approved for use in food additives, food enzymes, food flavourings and nutrients.  Official Journal of the European Union.  L 295/178. 12.11.2011.
6 Commission Regulation (EU) No 1129/2011 of 11 November 2011, amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council by establishing a Union list of food additives.  Official Journal of the European Union. L 295/1. 12.11.2011.
7 Regulation (EU) No 609/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013 on food intended for infants and young children, food for special medical purposes, and total diet replacement for weight control.
8 Commission delegated regulation (EU) 2016/127 of 25 September 2015.
9 USFDA Food additive status list, Color Additives in Food, and Everything added to food in the United States (EAFUS).
10 GB 2760-2014. 食品安全标准:食品添加剂使用标准.
11 GB 10767-2010 较大婴儿和幼儿配方食品
12 GB 14880-2012 食品营养强化剂使用标准
13 GB 10765-2010 食品安全国家标准婴儿配方食品
14 Standards for use, according to use categories.  Effective from September 26, 2016.
15 European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Candidate list of substances of very high concern for authorization. 16 CFR 101.4(a).  Code of Federal Regulations: Food; designation of ingredients.
17 Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) Regulations (Cap.132W).
18 Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the of 25 October 2011. Official J Eur Union. L 304/18.  22.11.2011.
19 Jawaid S et al. Contamination profile of aflatoxin M1 residues in milk supply chain of Sindh, Parkistan. Toxicology Report. 2015, 2: 141801422.
20 Rama A et al. Assessment of antibacterial drug residues in milk for consumption in Kosovo. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis. 2017. 25: 525-532.
21 Han RW et al. Survey of veterinary drug residues in raw milk in Hebei Province, China.  Journal of Food Protection.  2017. 1890-1896.
   " target="_blank">Vitargent published safe to buy list follow-on formula milk powder rated “Green Fish”
Vitargent publishes safe to buy list of lipsticks rated as “Green Fish”   (Hong Kong, 14 December 2017) Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited (“Vitargent”) published test results of 31 popular lipstick products available in the market on its Test-it™ information platform (www.fishqc.com). Known for its safety examinations of cooking oil, BB cream, instant coffee, sunscreen, ice cream and milk, Vitargent has applied the “zebrafish” and “transgenic medaka” embryo toxicity testing technology, which is unique in the world and developed by Hong Kong scientists. The safety test rated 23 samples as Green Fish (excellent), 3 samples as Yellow Fish (basic) and 5 samples as Red Fish (sub-optimal). In the acute toxicity test, the most toxic European lipstick sample exceeds the safety standard by nearly 17 times as compared to products of the same category. This sample was also found to be highly toxic in the chronic toxicity test as it killed all fish embryos. Ingredients check suggested that nearly half of the samples contain various chemical preservatives. These estrogenic endocrine disruptors can be readily absorbed by the body and are discovered in breast milk, breast tissue, cord blood and placentae, impairing the health of the next generation. There are also products containing paraffin and fragrances which may irritate skins and even cause acute allergic cheilitis in serious cases. Consumers are recommended to pay attention to the ingredients and select lipsticks that offer basic functions and contain fewer additives when making purchases.     Vitargent detected harmful chemicals in lipsticks with innovative bio-testing technology Testing 2.0   A lipstick is a must-have item in a lady’s makeup bag. It is the secret of a woman’s impeccable look regardless of seasons and occasions. However, it is often that consumers only pay attention to the brand, colour, shining effect, scent and moisturizing features, instead of the chemical additives listed on the product label when choosing a lipstick. Since lipsticks are a necessity for women, we should be aware of the harmful chemicals inside to minimise the health risks due to prolonged and excessive exposure to toxicants. Between April and August 2017, Vitargent purchased a total of 31 lipstick samples under 24 brands, including renowned international names such as YVES SAINT LAURENT, L'Oréal, Shu Uemura, CHANEL, Maybelline, REVLON, Max Factor and Innisfree, from makeup counters, Watsons and online platforms (JD.com and Tmall.com) for fish embryo toxicity tests.   Vitargent performed tests on lipstick samples by adopting the Testing 2.0 technology, which is a patented fish embryo bio-testing technology. Under which, samples are categorised as Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to product safety. The test result was published on the online consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™, for consumers to recognise safe products sold by retailers. Test-it™ benchmarks against the national and regional product safety standards, including those imposed in the European Union (EU) [1], the USA[2], China[3] and Japan[4], as well as the list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) [5] prepared by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Horizontal analysis against similar products was also conducted to establish safety standards:   Green Fish means “Excellence” in terms of safety, indicating good performance in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase; Yellow Fish means “Basic” in terms of safety, meaning a product meets the safety baselines in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution; Red Fish means “Sub-Optimal” in terms of safety, indicating a product is below standard in one or more criteria in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.     Low-priced lipsticks are safer than mid-and-high-priced ones; most Asian samples are rated as Green Fish   According to the results of Test-it™, amongst the 31 lipsticks samples under the safety tests, 23 products are rated as Green Fish (Excellent), 3 products are rated as Yellow Fish (Basic) and 5 products are rated as Red Fish (Sub-optimal). In terms of price, amongst the 31 samples purchased, the average price is 62.3HKD/g, while the most expensive one costs 210.5HKD/g, which is over 9 times of the cheapest one that costs 22.9HKD/g. For the total of 12 samples that cost below 35HKD/g, 10 (83%) samples are rated as Green Fish; 1 (8%) sample is rated as Yellow Fish and 1 (8%) sample is rated as Red Fish. For the total of 9 samples that cost between 35HKD/g and 80HKD/g, 7 (78%) samples are rated as Green Fish and 2 (22%) samples are rated as Red Fish. For the total of 10 samples that cost above 80HKD/g, 6 (60%) samples are rated as Green Fish, 2 (20%) samples are rated as Yellow Fish and 2 (20%) samples are rated as Red Fish. In conclusion, low-priced lipsticks are safer than mid-and-high-priced ones. Over 80% of low-priced samples pass the safety test and are rated as Green Fish. On the other hand, 20% of mid-and-high-priced lipstick samples are rated as Red Fish. Consumers are advised to be extra cautious when selecting lipsticks. Lipsticks under the test mainly include Asian brands, European brands and American brands. All 6 samples (100%) of Asian brands from China, Japan and Korea pass the test and are rated as Green Fish. A total of 14 samples of European brands from France and Italy are selected, with 10 (71%) rated as Green Fish and 4 (29%) rated as Red Fish. For the 11 American brands from the USA, 7 (64%) samples are rated as Green Fish, 3 (27%) samples are rated as Yellow Fish and 1 (9%) sample is rated as Red Fish. Regarding product origins, the test selects lipsticks produced in China, Korea, Japan, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, France, Canada and the USA. Among the total of 31 samples, 11 samples were produced in Asia (China, Japan and Korea), with 10 (91%) rated as Green Fish and 1 (9%) rated as Red Fish; 16 samples were produced in Europe (France, Italy, Belgium and Ireland), with 11 (69%) rated as Green Fish, 2 (13%) rated as Yellow Fish and 3 (19%) rated as Red Fish; 4 samples were produced in America (the USA and Canada), with 2 (50%) rated as Green Fish, 1 (25%) rated as Yellow Fish and 1 (25%) rated as Red Fish. It is concluded that, in terms of brand origins, Asia performs better than Europe and America, as all samples of Asian brands are rated as Green Fish. The result is similar for product origin, where lipsticks produced in Asia are found to be safer than those produced in Europe and America.   Lipstick samples tested positive for acute and chronic toxicants, containing preservatives that are estrogenic endocrine disruptors and may cause birth defect   Vitargent’s Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Tao said, “Zebrafish embryo and transgenic medaka fish embryo were used in the acute and chronic toxicants tests on lipstick samples. There are 3 samples that failed the zebrafish embryo test for acute toxicants. As 84% of genes known to be associated with human diseases have a zebrafish counterpart[6], and the tissue and organs of zebrafish, such as their heart, bones, pancreas and kidney, are similar to those of human, many studies have proved that toxicants that affect the development of zebrafish embryos pose significant health threats to human[7]. For example, they may cause cardiovascular diseases and abnormality in bone growth. It is worth mentioning that the development process of zebrafish embryos bears resemblances to that of human, and a day in zebrafish embryo development is 12 weeks (three months) in the development of human foetus. Our team observed under the microscope that, when zebrafish embryos were exposed to acute toxicants in lipstick samples, they developed abnormally and suffered from blood clotting disorders, heart swelling or even death in the most serious cases. Even though studies are yet to prove that certain diseases are underlying, the correlation with human is enough to draw attention to the potential health risk of acute toxicity as a result of exposure to sub-standard products.” Jimmy Tao also commented that, the toxicity of the European lipstick sample with the highest acute toxicity exceeded the safety standard by around 17 times as compared to products of the same category in Vitargent’s bio-database.   Five samples failed the transgenic medaka fish embryo testing for chronic toxicants. When chronic toxicants (estrogenic endocrine disruptors) are present in lipstick samples, the liver of the transgenic fish embryo emit green fluorescent light, of which the intensity can be used to quantify toxicants. The fish embryos may die immediately in the serious cases. Our team observed under the microscope that the above European sample also showed high toxicity in the chronic toxicity tests and killed all fish embryos. The WHO and UN have stated that estrogenic endocrine disruptors may induce cancers (breast cancer, testicular cancer and prostate cancer), reduce fertility, cause nervous system disorder and diabetes[8], among other health problems. Pregnant women may also pass the estrogenic endocrine disruptors absorbed by their bodies to their children. Scientific studies have proved that such substances can be found in breast milk[9], breast tissue[10], cord blood[11], and even the placentas[12]. They may be absorbed through the brains, respiratory system, digestive system and skin of the foetus, leading to developmental anomaly, precocious puberty in children and obesity as well as other health issues.   As Vitargent’s Chief Technology Officer and Registered Toxicologist in the UK and Europe Dr. Xueping Chen pointed out, based on the ingredient lists of lipstick samples, the team discovered that various chemical preservatives, such as the common butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) (found in 12 samples) and paraben preservative (found in 2 samples) were present in 20 samples. Preservatives are the potential cause of skin allergy, hence the more lipstick applied, the itchier it may become. Many countries have tightened the rules on the use of paraben preservatives. For example, Denmark prohibited the use of paraben preservatives in children’s products in 2012 and became the first paraben-free country[13]. EU’s rules on cosmetics EC 1223/20091 and China’s Safety and Technical Standards for Cosmetics3 banned 5 paraben preservatives, namely isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, phenylparaben, benzylparaben and pentylparaben, from 2014 and 2015 respectively. Currently, propylparaben and methylparaben are the most commonly used paraben preservatives by manufacturers. Consumers are recommended to pay attention to the ingredient labels on products and make wise choices.   Furthermore, the most widely used chemicals in lipstick samples include colourings (found in 31 samples), fragrances (found in 8 samples) and paraffin (found in 7 samples). Colourings, such as Blue No. 1 (CI 42090; found in 21 samples), lemon yellow (CI 19140; found in 20 samples), Red No.30 (CI 73360; found in 10 samples) are used to enhance colour. Yet, they may increase the risk of skin allergy or even pigmentation. Fragrances including geraniol, hydroxy citronellal, citronellol, linalool, benzyl alcohol and benzyl benzoate, are all known allergenic fragrances[14] that improve aroma. Paraffins such as petroleum jelly, petrolatum and minerals oils, are cheap and common moisturizers. However, they are not effective in keeping skin hydrated. As lip skin is much tender, it is prone to skin allergy.     Chemical additives in lipsticks may lead to allergy; properly-stored lipsticks protect lips   Specialist in Dermatology Dr. Joey Jeung explained, “Paraben preservatives are commonly used in various cosmetic and skincare products, including lipsticks, to stop the growth of germs and fungi as well as the change of flavours and colours. Given the humid weather in Hong Kong, lipsticks may have gone rancid before the expiry date. Therefore, lipsticks, like other cosmetics, are likely to contain preservatives that were added to extend the period for use. Nevertheless, the higher the water content, the easier it is for bacteria to grow. This applies to lipsticks, liquid foundation and concealers. Thus, it is better to check if the lipstick has become sticky, or has white damp patches on the surface before using it, to ensure that the deteriorated lipstick will not lead to bacterial infections or folliculitis. People with dry or wounded lips should avoid paraben preservatives, which are highly allergenic and may cause itchiness, swelling and inflamed lips.”   Dr. Joey Jeung pointed out that lipsticks with minerals oils extracted from petroleum and ore are moisturizing. However, their particles are larger than skin pores and may cause clogging. In addition, if petroleum is not properly refined, toxic substances, such as heavy metals or organic carcinogens, may not be filtered out. As a result, they may be absorbed directly through skin, leading to acute allergic cheilitis in serious cases. Dr. Joey Jeung recommended consumers not to store cosmetics at high temperature and humidity. Places next to a lamp or inside the bathroom are best to avoid so as to prevent contact with germs which may accelerate deterioration. Makeup should be removed before going to sleep to minimize the harm of residual cosmetics to the lips. Also, applying coloured lipsticks after putting on a layer of lip balm as protective coating can relieve irritation to the lips. Consumers should try out new lipsticks on the back of their hands or inside of their forearms, where the skins are more sensitive, for around 30 minutes. If there is no allergic reaction or red spot, the lipstick is likely to be safe to use. Dr. Jeung also reminded that if there is an allergic reaction on or near the lips, such as itchiness, rash or inflammation, consumers should stop using the lipstick immediately. In case of allergic lips, they are recommended to choose the most simple and basic lipsticks with the fewest additives.     Jimmy Tao concluded, “Bio-testing is one of the recent innovative technologies in the world. We hope that it will complement traditional chemical testing, supplement the bio-toxicity database which is very much in need, and help us explore more on known and unknown toxic substances, thereby avoiding direct absorption by people. Regarding “Yellow Fish” and “Red Fish” products which failed to meet the highest standard, brand owners and manufacturers have the unshrinkable responsibilities to proactively improve product safety and promote the enhancement of safety standard in the industry. The detailed list of “Green Fish” products that passed the acute toxicants and chronic toxicants tests as well as ingredients check is available on the online consumer product safety information platform - Test-it™ at www.fishqc.com for consumers to make wise choices.”      

END

 
[1] Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products. Official Journal of the European Union. L 342/59.  22.12.2009.
[2] USFDA Summary of colour additives for use in the United States in foods, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices; Prohibited & Restricted Ingredients.
[3] Safety and Technical Standards for Cosmetics (2015 revision).
[4] Standards for Cosmetics.  Ministry of Health and Welfare Notification No. 331 of 2000.
[5] European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Candidate list of substances of very high concern for authorization. https://echa.europa.eu/candidate-list-table
[6]. 2013, 498-503; doi:10.1038/nature12111.
[7] Bioscience Reports.  2017, 37 BSR20170199.  DOI: 10.1042/BSR20170199
[8] WHO & UNEP. State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals-2012
[9] Chimia 2008, 62: 345-351.
[10] Journal of Applied Toxicology. 2012, 32(3):219-232.
[11] Talanta. 2011, 84, 702-709.
[12] Science of Total Environment. 2013, 461-462, 214-221.
[13] http://healthland.time.com/2010/12/22/parabens-outlawed-in-childrens-products-in-denmark/
[14] SCCS/1459/11. Opinion on fragrance allergens in cosmetic products. European Union. 2011.
" target="_blank">Over 80% lipstick samples pass bio-toxicity tests Preservatives found in more than half samples and some contain estrogenic endocrine disruptors potentially causing birth defects
Vitargent published safe to buy list of milk drink and milk beverages rated “Green Fish”

  (Hong Kong, 23 November 2017) Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited (“Vitargent”) published test results of 68 popular liquid milk and milk beverage products under 29 brands available in the market on its Test-it™ information platform (www.fishqc.com). Known for its recent six safety examinations of cooking oil, BB cream, instant coffee, sunscreen, ice cream and lip balm, Vitargent has applied the “transgenic medaka” and “zebrafish” embryo toxicity testing technology, which is unique in the world and developed by Hong Kong scientists. The safety test rated 46 samples as Green Fish (excellent), 10 samples as Yellow Fish (basic) and 12 samples as Red Fish (sub-optimal). Nearly 30% of the samples were milk beverages (i.e. containing food additives or are solids derived from milk), some of which were added 13 types of additives. The overall safety of milk beverage samples was lower than liquid milk samples by over 50%. Vitargent noted that many consumers are not aware that the common “fresh milk” can be divided into two groups: liquid milk and milk beverages. Consumers are recommended to read information about product origins and ingredients on the labels before purchasing, and choose products that are safe to buy and those that have passed the “Green Fish” triple test.   Vitargent detected toxic chemicals in milk with innovative bio-testing technology Testing 2.0 Milk is an important part of a balanced diet. However, people usually focus on product origins, fat content (whole-fat, low-fat, skimmed) and flavour instead of the types of milk. According to the guidelines on milk classification of the Centre for Food Safety of Hong Kong, milk can be grouped into three categories: milk (means cows milk and includes cream and separated milk but does not include dried milk, condensed milk or reconstituted milk or buffaloes milk or goats milk); milk beverage (means any beverage resulting from the combining with a liquid of milk fat and other solids derived from milk, whether exclusive of any food additive or otherwise); reconstituted milk (means products resulting from the recombining with water of milk constituents, namely, milk fat and other solids derived from milk exclusive of any other substance). Reconstituted milk is not common in Hong Kong as milk and milk beverages are currently the mainstream. Based on whether they contained additives, samples were categorised into two groups in the test: milk drink (where milk is the only ingredient) and milk beverage (which contain ingredients other than milk, including modified milk and reconstituted milk). Vitargent purchased 68 milk drink and milk beverages under 29 brands from supermarkets in Hong Kong (ParknShop, fusion by ParknShop, Wellcome, City’Super) and online platforms (JD.com, Tmall.com) in the past year for fish embryo toxicity tests. Local and international brands were included, such as the Kowloon Dairy, Nestlé, Anlene, Anchor, Pauls, Harvey Fresh, Mengniu Dairy etc.   Vitargent performed tests on milk drink and milk beverage samples by adopting the Testing 2.0 technology, which is a patented fish embryo bio-testing technology. Under which, samples are categorised as Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to product safety. The test result was published on the online consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™, for consumers to recognise safe products sold by retailers. Test-it™ benchmarks against the national and regional product safety standards, including those imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO)[1], the European Union (EU)[2],[3],[4], the USA[5], China[6] and Japan[7], as well as the list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) [8]prepared by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Horizontal analysis against similar products was also conducted to establish safety standards:  
  • Green Fish means “Excellence” in terms of safety, indicating good performance in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase;
  • Yellow Fish means “Basic” in terms of safety, meaning a product meets the safety baselines in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution;
  • Red Fish means “Sub-Optimal” in terms of safety, indicating a product is below standard in one or more criteria in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.
  Price of milk and milk fat content link with safety while products from Europe and America performed better than that from Asia and Oceania Among the 68 samples, Test-it™ rated 46 samples as Green Fish (Excellent), ten samples as Yellow Fish (Basic) and 12 samples as Red Fish (Sub-optimal). In terms of price, the average price of the 68 samples purchased was 2.6HKD/100 mL. The most expensive one costed 10HKD/100mL, which was nearly nine times of the cheapest one which costed 1.1HKD/100mL. Among the 22 samples costed more than 2.6HKD/100 mL, 17 samples (77%) were rated Green Fish, three (14%) were rated Yellow Fish and two (9%) were rated Red Fish. Among the 21 samples that costed between 2HKD/100mL and 2.6HKD/100mL, 14 samples (68%) were rated Green Fish, two (9%) were rated Yellow Fish and five (23%) were rated Red Fish. Among the 25 samples that costed less than 2HKD/100mL, 14 (56%) samples were rated Green Fish, five (20%) were rated Yellow Fish and six (24%) were rated Red Fish. In conclusion, the safety of the high-priced samples was relatively higher than mid-priced and low-priced samples, with nearly 80% samples rated as Green Fish.   In terms of brand origins, samples under the test were from Asia (Hong Kong, China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia), Europe (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland), America and Oceania (New Zealand, Australia). Among the 46 samples of Asian brands, 29 (63%) of them were rated Green Fish, nine (20%) were rated Yellow Fish and eight (17%) were rated Red Fish. Among the ten samples of European and American brands, eight (80%) were rated Green Fish while two (20%) were rated Red Fish. Among the 12 samples of Oceanian brands, nine (75%) were rated Green Fish, one (8%) was rated Yellow Fish and two (17%) were rated Red Fish. As to the place of production, milk produced in Asia (Hong Kong, China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam), Europe (France, Germany, the Netherlands), America and Oceania (New Zealand, Australia) were tested. Among the 46 samples manufactured in Asia, 28 samples (60%) were rated Green Fish, nine (20%) were rated Yellow Fish and nine (20%) were rated Red Fish. For the nine samples produced in Europe and America, eight of them (89%) were rated Green Fish while one (11%) was rated Red Fish. Among the 13 samples manufactured in Oceania, ten samples (77%) were rated Green Fish, one (8%) was rated Yellow Fish and two (15%) were rated Red Fish. In conclusion, in terms of both brand and product origins, Europe and America achieved a better result than Asia and Oceania in general, with 80% of samples rated as Green Fish. Besides, the overall safety for skim milk samples achieve a better result than whole milk and low-fat milk. Among the 46 samples of whole milk brands, 28 samples (60%) were rated Green Fish, nine (20%) were rated Yellow Fish and nine (20%) were rated Red Fish. Among the 14 samples of low-fat milk, 11 samples (79%) were rated Green Fish, one (7%) was rated Yellow Fish and two (14%) were rated Red Fish. For the 8 skim milk brands, seven (88%) were rated Green Fish and one (13%) was rated Red Fish.   Samples tested positive in fish embryo test for acute toxicants, additives and contaminants may be to blame Vitargent’s Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Tao said, “Zebrafish embryo and transgenic medaka embryo were used in the acute toxicants and chronic toxicants tests of milk samples. In the zebrafish embryo test for acute toxicants, 46 samples (68%) were rated Green Fish, ten (15%) were rated Yellow Fish and 12 (18%) were rated Red Fish. As 84% of genes known to be associated with human diseases have a zebrafish counterpart, substances which are harmful to zebrafish may also be harmful to human. Our team observed under the microscope that, when zebrafish embryos are exposed to acute toxicants in milk samples, they developed abnormally and suffered from blood clotting disorders, heart swelling or even death in the most serious cases. The milk sample with the highest acute toxicity exceeded the safety standard of Vitargent by almost 17 times. Furthermore, all samples passed the transgenic medaka embryo test for chronic toxicants and none of them exceeded the limits for estrogenic endocrine disruptors.” Jimmy Tao also commented, “From the result comparison of Green Fish products, milk drink samples were over 50% safer than milk beverage samples. Among the 68 samples tested, 45 (66%) were milk drinks and 23 (34%) were milk beverages. For the milk drink samples, 35 samples (78%) were rated Green Fish, five (11%) were rated Yellow Fish and five (11%) were rated Red Fish.  For the milk beverage samples, 11 samples (48%) were rated Green Fish, five (22%) were rated Yellow Fish and seven (30%) were rated Red Fish.” Chief Technology Officer and EU and UK registered toxicologist Dr. Xueping Chen explained, “The acute toxicity found in milk drinks might be related to chemical additives and contaminants in the samples. Among the 68 samples tested, 23 of them containing additives other than milk were categorized as milk beverages. 14 of such samples contained 5 to 13 types of additives, including emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, nutritional supplements, flavourings and colourings. The additives most commonly added to milk beverage samples were mono- and diglycerides (as emulsifier, found in nine samples), microcrystalline cellulose (as emulsifier and stabilizer, found in seven samples), carrageenan (as thickener, found in six samples), sodium hexametaphosphate (as acidity regulator and stabilizer, found in five samples) etc. Certain samples were found containing additives with different purposes, such as calcium carbonate (as calcium supplement), lutein (as colouring), bixin (as colouring), Tween 80 (as emulsifier) etc.” Moreover, the test also found Vitamin A supplement in five samples, Vitamin D supplement in eight samples and Vitamin E supplement in four samples. Dr. Xueping Chen said, “According to the WHO and regulations of different countries, taking supplements properly may not harm human body. However, Hong Kong people have developed the long-term habit of taking nutrition supplements and thus, they may exceed the suggested daily intake when considering the dietary nutrition. For example, Vitamin A is an antioxidant with preservative property. However, it is proved in medical studies that excessive intake may affect fat metabolism, leading to increase of toxicity in liver, low bone density and bone fracture in middle-aged and elderly women, and even birth defects[9]. In 2012, the Ministry of Health of Norway warned that pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid products containing Vitamin A[10].” Dr. Xueping Chen pointed out that several toxicology research reports on milk published in recent years proved the risks of other toxics in milk, including known microbial contamination, mycotoxin (such as Aflatoxin) contamination[11], veterinary drugs residues[12],[13], pesticide residues[14],[15] and other unknown contamination (such as melamine)[16].   Additives reduce nutritional value of milk; people in different age groups and with various body conditions have different needs  Nutritionist Annie Lee said, “Additives reduce nutritional value of milk and are unnecessary. The more additives in milk beverage, the lower the milk content. The body will get less nutrition, such as protein and fat-soluble Vitamins accordingly.”  Annie Lee pointed out that many parents hesitated on what age to give milk to their babies and what types of milk should be given. In fact, infants aged below twelve months should not be fed milk in replacement of breast feeding or infant formula because this hinders the intake of protein, sodium and potassium etc, and affects their growth and development. If the baby is allergic to milk protein, it may develop allergic reaction, including skin swelling, eczema, diarrhoea, vomiting, hematochezia or even asthma. Kids aged between 1 and 2 may have semi-solid food and whole milk which give extra energy and fat for their growth and their needs for body and brain development. Nevertheless, if young children have been fed with breast milk, it may take time for them to get used to cold fresh milk. Parents may take it step by step and feed them with sweet formula milk powder or cheese. Children aged 2 or above can drink high-calcium low-fat milk while children aged 5 or above with balanced development can drink skimmed milk. For adult and the elderly, low-fat dairy products are recommended. They should also increase intake of calcium based on their needs. Annie Lee reminded that milk may not be suitable for all as everyone has different body conditions. People with a sensitive digestive system, milk allergy and lactose intolerance should avoid drinking milk. Lactose-free milk, soy milk, almond milk or rice milk are available for those with lactose intolerance. Furthermore, medicine should not be taken with milk because this will affect medical effect. Consumers should pay attention to the date of manufacture, expiry date and sterilization descriptions on labels when choosing fresh milk. In general, the shelf life of UHT Processed products is longer than that of pasteurized products. For coffee brewing, UHT processed dairy products are recommended as they can maintain more nutrition in high temperature. For detailed product list of Green Fish which passed the acute toxicants, chronic toxicants tests and ingredients check, please visit the online consumer product safety information platform Test-it™ at www.fishqc.com for a wise choice.      
[1] CODEX STAN 192-1995. General Standard for Food Additives.
[2] Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on food additives. Official Journal of the European Union. L 354/16. 31.12.2008.
[3] Commission Regulation (EU) No 1130/2011 of 11 November 2011. amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on food additives by establishing a Union list of food additives approved for use in food additives, food enzymes, food flavourings and nutrients.  Official Journal of the European Union.  L 295/178. 12.11.2011.
[4] Commission Regulation (EU) No 1129/2011 of 11 November 2011, amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council by establishing a Union list of food additives.  Official Journal of the European Union. L 295/1. 12.11.2011.
[5] USFDA Food additive status list, Color Additives in Food, and Everything added to food in the United States (EAFUS).
[6] GB 2760-2014. 食品安全标准:食品添加剂使用标准.
[7] Standards for use, according to use categories.  Effective from September 26, 2016.
[8] European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Candidate list of substances of very high concern for authorization. https://echa.europa.eu/candidate-list-table
[9] SCCS (Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety), Opinion on Vitamin A (Retinol, Retinyl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate), SCCS/1576/16, 20 April 2016, final version of 6 October 2016, CORRIGENDUM on 23 December 2016
[10] Norwegian SCFS, Risk Profile: Retinaldehyde. Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (Vitenskapskomiteen for Mattrygghet), 2012.
[11] Jawaid S et al. Contamination profile of aflatoxin M1 residues in milk supply chain of Sindh, Parkistan.  Toxicology Report. 2015, 2: 141801422.
[12]. Rama A et al. Assessment of antibacterial drug residues in milk for consumption in Kosovo.  Journal of Food and Drug Analysis.  2017. 25: 525-532.
[13] Han RW et al. Survey of veterinary drug residues in raw milk in Hebei Province, China.  Journal of Food Protection.  2017. 1890-1896.
[14] Chen X et al. Method for the quantification of current use and persistent pesticides in cow milk, human milk and baby formula using gas chromatography tandem mass spectrometry.  Journal of Chromatography, Part B, Analytical Technology and Biomedical Life Science.  2014, 970: 121-130.
[15] Murga et al. Organochlorine pesticide distribution in an organic production system for cow’s milk in Chiapas, Mexico.  Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part B. 2016, 0: 1-5
[16] Hassani S et al. Occurrence of melamine contamination in powder and liquid milk in market of Iran.  Food Additives & Contaminants: Par A, 2013. 30: 413-420.
" target="_blank">Nearly 20% milk products failed bio-toxicity tests Liquid milk is over 50% safer than milk beverages yet they are indistinguishable to consumers
Vitargent published safe to buy list of lip balms rated “Green Fish”   (Hong Kong, 17 October 2017) Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited (“Vitargent”) is known for the earlier published safety examination of cooking oil, BB cream, instant coffee, sun cream and ice-cream on Test-itTM platform (www.fishqc.com), and Vitargent is now extending the investigation to lip alm products with the world-exclusive “transgenic medaka” and “zebrafish” embryo toxicity testing technology that was developed by Hong Kong scientists. Test result of 31 popular lip balm product samples have been published, and the safety test rated 16 samples as Green Fish (excellent), 4 samples as Yellow Fish (basic), and 11 samples as Red Fish (sub-optimal). Among the 8 sunscreen lip balm samples, 7 of them failed to comply with the Medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants (xenoestrogens), and the level of estrogenic endocrine disruptors (EEDs) in lip balms of several international brands has severely exceeded Vitargent’s standard by 11 times. In Zebrafish embryo testing for acute toxicants, some samples have exceeded the safety standard by 24 times, and the poison effect is suspected to be the consequence of ingredients such as Retinyl Palmitate, Benzophenone-3, Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) etc., exhibited biological toxicity alone or in the form of mixture. Consumers are recommended to pay special attention on choosing lip balms, and should consider products with less extra ingredients and functions.   Vitargent detected toxic chemicals in lip balm with innovative bio-testing technology Testing 2.0 Autumn is around the corner and it’s time to protect lips from drying out with lip balm. However, some packaging of lip balms claims extra functions such as pharmaceutical sunscreen, water resistant, rectifying lip wrinkles and dull colors, recovering pressured skin cells and more. Consumers might overlook that the extra functions come with chemical substances which potentially raises health risk under excessive intake. With that in mind, Vitargent has collected 31 lip balm samples during April and May among 30 brands from beauty halls, Watson’s and online shopping platforms such as Kaola.com, Jingdong and Tmall and put them to the fish embryo toxicity test. Its samples came from world famous brands like NIVEA, Innisfree, CUREL, KIEHL’s, MAYBELLINE, Mentholatum and more. Vitargent performed tests on lip balm samples by adopting the Testing 2.0 technology, which is a patented fish embryo bio-testing technology. Under which, samples are categorised as Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to product safety. The test result was published on the online consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™, for consumers to recognise safe products sold by retailers. Test-it™ also benchmarks against the national and regional product safety standards, including those imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Union (EU)[1], the USA[2], China[3] and Japan[4], as well as the list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC)[5] prepared by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Horizontal analysis against similar products was also conducted to establish safety standards:
  • Green Fish means “Excellence” in terms of safety, indicating good performance in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase;
  • Yellow Fish means “Basic” in terms of safety, meaning a product meets the safety baselines in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution;
  • Red Fish means “Sub-Optimal” in terms of safety, indicating a product is below standard in one or more criteria in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.
   Lower priced lip balms are safer than mid, higher priced lip balms; Most Asian brands are rated as Green Fish Among the 31 lip balm samples, Test-itTM rated 16 samples as Green Fish (excellent), 4 samples as Yellow fish (basic) and 11 samples as Red Fish (sub-optimal). In terms of price, among the 31 samples collected, the average price is 15.3HKD/gram. The cheapest one costs 2.2HKD/gram, which is around 26 times cheaper than the most expensive one which costs 56.9HKD/gram. Among the 10 samples that cost lower than 7.5HKD/gram, 6 samples were rated Green Fish (60%), 2 were rated Yellow Fish (20%), and 2 were rated Red Fish (20%). Among the 11 samples that cost between 7.5HKD/gram and 15HKD/gram, 5 samples were rated Green Fish (45.5%), 1 was rated Yellow Fish (9%), and 5 were rated as Red Fish (45.5%). Among the 10 samples that cost more than 15HKD/gram, 5 were rated Green Fish (50%), 1 was rated Yellow Fish (10%), and 4 were rated Red Fish (40%). All in all, lower priced lip balms are safer than mid, higher priced lip balms, with 60% of them passing the safety test and rated as Green Fish; whereas a 40% Red Fish rating is observed among mid, higher priced lip balms, consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution. In terms of brand origins, Vitargent selected products from Asia, Europe, America and Oceania region. Among the 6 samples of Asia brand (Mainland China, Japan, Korea), 4 samples were rated Green Fish (66.7%), 1 was rated Yellow Fish (16.7%), and 1 was rated Red Fish (16.7%). Among the 7 samples of Europe brand (France, Germany), 4 were rated Green Fish (57%), 1 was rated as Yellow Fish (14%), and 2 were rated as Red Fish (29%). Among the 16 samples of America brand (the USA), 7 samples were rated Green Fish (44%), 2 were rated Yellow Fish (12%), and 7 were rated as Red Fish (44%). Among the 2 samples of Oceania brand (New Zealand, Australia), 1 was rated as Green Fish (50%), and 1 was rated as Red Fish (50%). For the place of manufacture, samples selected were manufactured from China, Korea, Japan, France, Germany, the USA and Australia. Among the 31 samples, all 5 samples from Mainland China were rated as Green Fish (100%), 2 samples from Korea were rated as Red Fish (100%). Out of the 2 samples from Japan, 1 was rated as Green Fish (50%), and 1 was rated as Yellow Fish (50%). Out of the 6 samples from France, 3 samples were rated as Green Fish (50%), 1 was rated as Yellow Fish (17%), and 2 were rated as Red Fish (33%). Out of the 2 samples from Germany, 1 was rated as Green Fish (50%), and 1 was rated as Red Fish (50%). Out of the 13 samples from the USA, 6 samples were rated as Green Fish (46%), 2 were rated Yellow Fish (15%), and 5 were rated Red Fish (39%). 1 sample was from Australia and it was rated as Red Fish (100%). To wrap up, in terms of brand origins Asia has the best performance when compared to Europe, America and Oceania region, with more than 60% of the samples rated as Green Fish. Place of manufacture wise results are similar with brand origins comparison with Asia performing better, Mainland China in particular.   Close to 90% of the selected sunscreen lip balms failed Medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants; containing xenoestrogens which affects endocrine system Vitargent’s Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Tao said,” In this test we have selected 31 lip balm samples in total, among them 8 comes with a sunscreen function. Our bio-toxicity test identified 7 out of the 8 samples with sunscreen function failed Medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants, estrogenic endocrine disrupting chemicals will trigger green fluorescence in our fish liver and were rated as Red Fish. Our team identified various sunscreen chemical components among the Red Fish list such as Benzophenone-3 (found in 6 samples), Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (found in 8 samples), Octocrylene (found in 2 samples), HymamateDimethyl PABA ethylhexyl ester, Ethylhexyl salicylate and Butylmethoxy dibenzylmethane.All the above belong to the xenoestrogens family and may potentially create a poison effect on living species. According to the WHO and United Nations, EEDs may cause cancer, reduce reproductive success, lead to immune disorder, precocious puberty and diabetes, among other health effects[6].” Jimmy Tao also pointed out,” The test also revealed lip balms of several world class brands has an 11 times EED level over Vitargent’s safety standard, the highest EED level amount the samples were found to contain 10,919 ng of EEDs per gram (a lip balm weighs around 3.5-15 grams). According to European Commission SCCS Notes of Guidance for the Testing of Cosmetic SCCS/1564/15, average daily consumption of lip care products should be 0.057 ng, and this already represent an over consumption of EED.” As for the Zebrafish embryo testing for acute toxicants, there are 8 samples failing the safety test. Among which the sample with the highest acute toxicants is 24 times higher than Vitargent’s safety standard. The team found toxicants such as Benzophenone-3, Retinyl Palmitate, Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), Citral etc., which may exhibit biological toxicity alone or in the form of mixture. In the presence of toxic substances, the embryo development will be affected, and adverse effects such as tumor, heart edema; severe malform, or even death directly.  Vitargent’s Chief Technology Officer and UK and EU Registered Toxicologist Dr. Xueping, Chen gave us an illustration,” Benzophenone-3 screens UVB and part of UVA. It can penetrate the skin and create skin allergies[7]. In particular the chemical will interfere with the body's endocrine system, change estrogen levels and affect normal puberty development[8]. EWG (Environmental Working Group) strongly recommends that you do not choose cosmetics that contain this ingredient[9]; Retinyl Palmitate is a derivative of vitamin A, with antioxidant, which can be preservative. However, it has been clinically proven that excessive intake of vitamin A has the opportunity to affect fat metabolism, leading to increased liver toxicity, middle-aged women with decreased bone density and easy to fracture, and even fetal malformations[10]. The Norwegian health department warned pregnant women and breastfeeding women to avoid the use of vitamin A-containing products in 2012[11]; Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) is a preservative that can cause dermatitis and allergies[12] and have the opportunity to accelerate lung cancer[13]. In addition, 15 samples were found to add paraffin components such as Petroleum jelly, petrolatum, mineral oil and so on. Paraffin wax is a cheap and widely used moisturizing substance, but because of its poor moisturizing function, it fails to lock the water, while creating a chance to get an allergy. When eaten and accumulate in the body, paraffin may also cause genetic toxicity and result to cancer risk [14]. Last but not the least, there are as many as 21 samples with known allergic fragrance ingredients such as citral, geraniol, citronellol, linalool, rosin alcohol, and more, they have the opportunity to lead to skin allergies, itching and even pigmented cosmetic dermatitis.[15]” Dr. Xueping, Chen recommends,” In the purchase of lip balm, you can pay more attention to the composition of labels, production origin, use precautions, and other information. For example, some of which even limits the use for infants under the age of two. In addition, if the skin itself is more sensitive or infected with rash, especially for infants, children and pregnant women, one should choose lip balms that do not contain irritating ingredients such as spices, color, preservatives or chemical sunscreen and other additives. When trying a new lip balm, one can apply it to the back of the hand or the skin inside forearm, let it stay for about 30 Minutes, and if there is no sensitive reaction or rash, one can be assured to use it. “ Jimmy Tao said,” "Biology testing is one of the newest technologies in the world in recent years. We hope to be able to complement traditional chemical testing to identify the toxic chemicals that cannot be tested in the product, avoiding human direct consumption. For Yellow Fish and Red Fish products that did not meet our Green Fish safety standard, we will actively contact the respective brands and manufacturers to promote the overall industry to enhancing product safety. At the same time, consumers can visit the website of the Test-itTM (www.fishqc.com) online consumer goods safety information platform, and find out the Green Fish products that qualified our testing for chronic toxicants and acute toxicants and also ingredient check for more peace of mind purchase options."    

END

 
[1] Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products. Official Journal of the European Union. L 342/59.  22.12.2009.
[2] USFDA Summary of colour additives for use in the United States in foods, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices; Prohibited & Restricted Ingredients.
[3] 化妝品安全技術規範. 2015版.
[4] Standards for Cosmetics.  Ministry of Health and Welfare Notification No. 331 of 2000.
[5] European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Candidate list of substances of very high concern for authorization. https://echa.europa.eu/candidate-list-table[5]
[6] WHO & UNEP. State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals-2012.  Available at http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/endocrine/en/
[7] SCCP (Scientific Committee on Consumer Products), Opinion on benzophenone-3, 16 December 2008.
[8] Ghazipura et al. Exposure to benzophenone-3 and reproductive toxicity: a systematic review of human and animal studies. Reproductive Toxicology. 73, 175-183. 2017.
[9] https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/704372/OXYBENZONE/#.WdHihGiCyUk
[10] SCCS (Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety), Opinion on Vitamin A (Retinol, Retinyl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate), SCCS/1576/16, 20 April 2016, final version of 6 October 2016, CORRIGENDUM on 23 December 2016
[11] Norwegian SCFS, Risk Profile: Retinaldehyde. Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (Vitenskapskomiteen for Mattrygghet), 2012.
[12]  EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS); Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of Butylated hydroxytoluene BHT (E 321) as a food additive. EFSA Journal 2012;10(3):2588.
[13] Bauer et al., The lung tumor promoter butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) causes chronic inflammation in promotion-sensitive BALB/cByJ mice but not in promotionresistant CXB4 mice, Toxicology 169 (2001) 1–15.
[14] EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM); Scientific Opinion on Mineral Oil Hydrocarbons in Food. EFSA Journal. 2012;10(6):2704.
[15] SCCS/1459/11. Opinion on fragrance allergens in cosmetic products. European Union. 2011.
 " target="_blank">30% of lip balm samples failed bio-toxicity tests Excessive EEDs and acute toxic substances identified potentially leading to allergy and rashes or induce cancer
safe to buy list of ice-creams rated “Green Fish”   (Hong Kong, 21 September 2017) Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited (“Vitargent”) published test results of 29 popular ice-cream products under 9 brands available in the market on its Test-it™ information platform (www.fishqc.com). Known for its safety examination of cooking oil, BB cream, instant coffee and sunscreen, Vitargent has applied the “transgenic medaka” and “zebrafish” embryo toxicity testing technology, which is unique in the world and developed by Hong Kong scientists. The safety test rated 12 samples as Green Fish (excellent), 7 samples as Yellow Fish (basic) and 10 samples as Red Fish (sub-optimal). Although the food additives in the samples as shown on the product labels followed the recommended usage of various countries, in Vitargent’s test using the global leading bio-testing technology Testing 2.0, the fish embryos exhibited abnormal development or died in some cases when exposed to certain ice-cream samples. This indicated that such samples contained toxic substances which traditional testing technology failed to detect. Hence, consumers are recommended to choose brands that are safe to buy and those that have passed the “Green Fish” triple test.     Vitargent detected toxic chemicals in ice-cream with innovative bio-testing technology Testing 2.0  
Ice-cream is a popular and refreshing treat in hot summer. Recently, a story about an ice-cream that did not melt under the sun for five straight days made international news and got people surprised and worried about the negative impact of additives in ice-cream on their health. Meanwhile, consumer awareness was raised as the Centre for Food Safety found that a few local ice-cream parlours were selling products with an excessive total bacterial count. In view of such, Vitargent purchased 29 ice-cream products from major supermarkets (Yata, PARKnSHOP and City’Super) and 7-11 convenient stores in Hong Kong for fish embryos toxicity tests in May 2017. Samples tested include products from 9 world-renowned brands such as Nestle, Haagen-Dazs, Dryers, MOVENPICK and LILY & RAN.  
Vitargent performed tests on ice-cream samples by adopting the Testing 2.0 technology, which is a patented fish embryo bio-testing technology. Under which, samples are categorised as Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to product safety. The test result was published on the online consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™, for consumers to recognise safe products sold by retailers. Test-it™ benchmarks against the national and regional product safety standards, including those imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO)1、, the European Union (EU)234, the USA5, China6 and Japan7, as well as the list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC)  8prepared by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Horizontal analysis against similar products was also conducted to establish safety standards:  
  • Green Fish means “Excellence” in terms of safety, indicating good performance in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase;
  • Yellow Fish means “Basic” in terms of safety, meaning a product meets the safety baselines in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution;
  • Red Fish means “Sub-Optimal” in terms of safety, indicating a product is below standard in one or more criteria in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.
More expensive ice-cream may not be safer; Swiss brands performed better than other countries and cities   Among the 29 ice-cream samples, Test-it™ rated 12 samples (41%) as Green Fish (excellent), 7 samples (24%) as Yellow Fish (basic) and 10 samples (35%) as Red Fish (sub-optimal). In terms of price, among the 29 samples collected, the average price is 20.3HKD/100mL. The most expensive one costs 30.4HKD/100mL, which is around 12 times of the cheapest one that costs 2.7HKD/100mL. Among the 10 samples that cost less than 19.6HKD/100mL, only four samples (40%) were rated Green Fish, while three (30%) were rated Yellow Fish and three (30%) were rated Red Fish; Among the 10 samples that cost between 19.6HKD/100mL and 21.7HKD/100mL, three samples (30%) were rated Green Fish, four (40%) were rated Yellow Fish and three (30%) were rated Red Fish; Among the nine samples that cost more than 21.7HKD/100mL, five samples (56%) were rated Green Fish and four (44%) were rated Red Fish. All in all, most low and mid-priced ice-cream products had unsatisfactory safety performance, with less than half of them rated Green Fish. Despite such, given that a high percentage of expensive ice-cream products was also rated Red Fish, the price may not be the most important consideration when purchasing ice-cream. In terms of brand origins, Vitargent selected products from Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland, the USA and New Zealand. Among the nine samples of Hong Kong brands, four (45%) samples were rated Green Fish, two (22%) were rated Yellow Fish and three (33%) were rated Red Fish. Among the four samples of Japanese brands, one (25%) sample was rated Green Fish, two (50%) were rated Yellow Fish and one (25%) was rated Red Fish. Among the five samples of Swiss brands, three (60%) samples were rated Green Fish, one (20%) was rated Yellow Fish and one (20%) was rated Red Fish. Among the eight samples of USA brands, three (37.5%) samples were rated Green Fish, two (25%) were rated Yellow Fish and three (37.5%) were rated Red Fish. Among the three samples of New Zealand brands, one (33%) sample was rated Green Fish and two (67%) were rated Red Fish. For the place of manufacture, over 60% of the samples were from Hong Kong, and the rest were from France, Switzerland and New Zealand. Out of the 19 samples manufactured in Hong Kong, eight (42%) samples were rated Green Fish, five (26%) were rated Yellow Fish and six (32%) were rated Red Fish. Out of the four samples manufactured in France, two (50%) samples were rated Green Fish, one (25%) was rated Yellow Fish and one (25%) was rated Red Fish. Out of the three samples manufactured in Switzerland, one (33.3%) sample was rated Green Fish, one (33.3%) was rated Yellow Fish and one (33.3%) was rated Red Fish. Out of the three samples manufactured in New Zealand, one (33%) sample was rated Green Fish and two (67%) were rated Red Fish. In other words, ice-cream manufactured in Switzerland had the best safety performance than those made in other countries and cities, while products manufactured in Hong Kong are not particularly safe. Fish embryos showed abnormal development or even died, indicating acute and chronic toxicants in ice-cream samples   Vitargent’s Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Tao said, “In general, all food products must pass the most basic inspection under current Hong Kong food regulations before launching to the market. For instance, according to the Frozen Confections Regulation9, ice treats other than soft ice-cream must not exceed the bacteria or coliform bacteria limit and must be kept below -2 °C. Nonetheless, traditional test methods can only cover the most common 5 to 10 toxicants, and other harmful substances may be missed in the screening. Our bio-testing technology has revolutionised the world as a new testing method that helps to improve overall product safety. Based on biological responses, our test can identify the “cocktail effect” caused by mixing over 1,000 toxicants and chemicals within 48 hours, while covering chemicals that are not included in routine tests.” Vitargent applied zebrafish embryos and transgenic medaka embryos for the testing of acute and chronic toxicants in ice-cream samples. As zebrafish embryos have analogues of 84% of genes associated with human diseases, substances that are toxic to them are likely to be toxic to human. For the testing of acute toxicity with zebrafish embryos, 12 samples (41%) were rated Green Fish, seven samples (24%) were rated Yellow Fish and 10 samples (35%) were rated Red Fish. Jimmy Tao said, “When we exposed zebrafish embryos to the acute toxicants in the ice-cream samples, we noticed that they showed abnormal development, such as tumours in heads or tails and swelling heart under the microscope. In severe cases, some embryos died.” On the other hand, in the testing of chronic toxicants with transgenic medaka embryos, 23 samples (79%) were rated Green Fish and six (21%) were rated Red Fish. Jimmy Tao said, “Transgenic medaka embryos are mainly used in the test of chronic toxic chemicals (estrogenic endocrine disruptors). In our test, except for the six samples that were marked Red Fish after the fish embryos were killed by their high toxicity, all the remaining 23 samples passed the test and we did not see green fluorescent light emitting from fish embryos (fluorescence indicates the presence of estrogenic endocrine disruptors).” Ice-cream ingredients on product labels meet regulations, but such information may not effectively reflect overall product safety   Regarding the ingredients of ice-cream, Jimmy Tao pointed out that the most common additives found in all tested samples were guaran (also known as guar gum, found in 22 samples), locust bean gum (also known as carbo bean gum, found in 15 samples) and carrageenan (found in 15 samples), which were commonly used food emulsifiers, thickeners and stabilizers. When used in appropriate amounts in accordance with WHO regulations and national requirements of various countries, they would not cause health risks.   Nutritionist Annie Lee said, “Common additives in ice-cream, such as guaran (E412) and locust bean gum (E410), are natural gums that are mainly used in emulsification, thickening and stabilisation. Carrageenan (E407 / E407a) is extracted from various red algae and commonly used in ice-cream and dairy products as gels, thickeners and emulsifiers to improve texture. The WHO10, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)11 and the China Food and Drug Administration12 have imposed a limit on the use of carrageenan in baby food. The EFSA even banned its use in food for infants under 4 months. Furthermore, xanthan gum (E415), which is a polysaccharide produced from the fermentation process by bacteria, is often added as an emulsifier, thickener or stabilizer to food. However, as shown in the 2017 re-evaluation report of the ESFA13, xanthan gum may contain heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury. Thus, the ESFA plans to revise the limit of heavy metals in xanthan gum so that it will not become the major source of food poisoning. Food colorings and preservatives are also widely found in ice-cream, though they are not necessary for food production. Both natural and artificial food colorings are used to replace the raw materials and add colors to ice-cream to enhance appearance. However, previous studies1415 suggested that excessive intake of colorings can cause hyperactivity and mood swing in children.” According to Annie Lee, while it is important for parents to pay attention to the safety of ice-cream products for their kids, the elderly and pregnant women should never overlook the risks. The manufacture, transportation and freezing of ice-cream may increase the bacteria count of E. coli and Listeria. As pregnant women are especially prone to Listeria infection, it is recommended for pregnant women, kids and the elderly to avoid eating soft ice-cream and to choose high-quality and well-stored hard ice-cream. In addition, people who are allergic to milk solids and milk can select ice-cream made of yogurt to prevent causing stomach irritation and diarrhoea, as yogurt contains probiotics that play an important part in gastrointestinal health.   Jimmy Tao reminded that the current safety analysis on food additives primarily focused on analysing the risks of a single ingredient and did not take into consideration the combined toxicity effects when such ingredient was mixed with others. Besides, the selection of ingredients, manufacture, transportation and storage of ice-cream might compromise food safety. Consumers can visit the website of the Test-it™ online consumer product safety information platform (
www.fishqc.com) for information of “Green Fish” products that passed the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients, so as to enjoy safer shopping.

END

   
[1] CODEX STAN 192-1995. GENERAL STANDARD FOR FOOD ADDITIVES.
[2] REGULATION (EC) NO 1333/2008 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL OF 16 DECEMBER 2008 ON FOOD ADDITIVES. OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION. L 354/16. 31.12.2008.
[3] COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) NO 1130/2011 OF 11 NOVEMBER 2011. AMENDING ANNEX III TO REGULATION (EC) NO 1333/2008 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL ON FOOD ADDITIVES BY ESTABLISHING A UNION LIST OF FOOD ADDITIVES APPROVED FOR USE IN FOOD ADDITIVES, FOOD ENZYMES, FOOD FLAVOURINGS AND NUTRIENTS.  OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.  L 295/178. 12.11.2011.
[4] COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) NO 1129/2011 OF 11 NOVEMBER 2011, AMENDING ANNEX II TO REGULATION (EC) NO 1333/2008 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL BY ESTABLISHING A UNION LIST OF FOOD ADDITIVES.  OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION. L 295/1. 12.11.2011.
[5] USFDA FOOD ADDITIVE STATUS LIST, COLOR ADDITIVES IN FOOD, AND EVERYTHING ADDED TO FOOD IN THE UNITED STATES (EAFUS).
[6] GB 2760-2014. 食品安全标准:食品添加剂使用标准.
[7] STANDARDS FOR USE, ACCORDING TO USE CATEGORIES.  EFFECTIVE FROM SEPTEMBER 26, 2016.
[8] EUROPEAN CHEMICALS AGENCY (ECHA). CANDIDATE LIST OF SUBSTANCES OF VERY HIGH CONCERN FOR AUTHORIZATION. HTTPS://ECHA.EUROPA.EU/CANDIDATE-LIST-TABLE
[9] 公眾衛生及市政條列第132章第V部。HTTP://WWW.CFS.GOV.HK/TC_CHI/FOOD_LEG/FOOD_LEG.HTML
[10] CODEX STAN 192-1995. GENERAL STANDARD FOR FOOD ADDITIVES.
[11] COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) NO 1130/2011 OF 11 NOVEMBER 2011. AMENDING ANNEX III TO REGULATION (EC) NO 1333/2008 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL ON FOOD ADDITIVES BY ESTABLISHING A UNION LIST OF FOOD ADDITIVES APPROVED FOR USE IN FOOD ADDITIVES, FOOD ENZYMES, FOOD FLAVOURINGS AND NUTRIENTS.  OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.  L 295/178. 12.11.2011.
[12] GB 2760-2014. 食品安全标准:食品添加剂使用标准.
[13] WHO & UNEP. STATE OF THE SCIENCE OF ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS-2012.  AVAILABLE AT HTTP://WWW.WHO.INT/CEH/PUBLICATIONS/ENDOCRINE/EN/
[14] LANCET. 2007;370(9598):1560–1567.
[15] ENVIRON HEALTH PERSPECT. 2012 JAN;120(1):1-5.
" target="_blank">30% of ice-cream samples failed bio-toxicity tests and tested positive for acute and chronic toxicants
 Vitargent published safe to buy list of sunscreens rated “Green Fish”   (Hong Kong, 17 August 2017) Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited (“Vitargent”) published the test results of 51 popular sunscreen products on the Test-it™ platform (www.fishqc.com). Known for its safety examination of cooking oil, BB cream and instant coffee, Vitargent investigated sun cream samples with the world-exclusive “transgenic medaka” and “zebrafish” embryo toxicity testing technology that was developed by Hong Kong scientists. The safety test rated 16 samples as Green Fish (excellent), eight samples as Yellow Fish (basic) and 27 samples as Red Fish (sub-optimal), while identified over 20 types of estrogenic endocrine disruptors (EEDs) in the sunscreen samples. The study discovered that the level of EEDs in 18 samples exceeds Vitargent’s safety standards. Meanwhile, four samples with particularly high EED concentration were found to contain as much EEDs per gram as contraceptive pills. The test also concluded that sunscreen products with active physical ingredients are safer than those with active chemical and hybrid ingredients. In view of this, Vitargent advised consumers to pay attention when making decisions.     Vitargent screens out harmful chemicals in sun creams with innovative bio-testing technology “Testing 2.0” To block UV radiation on a scorching summer day, people put on sunscreen no matter they are indoor or outdoor. With overwhelming choices of sun cream products in the market, consumers not only consider their brand preference, skin type and complexion, but also pay attention to the products’ SPF and their ability to meet different needs, such as whitening, protection against skin darkening, moisturising, repairing, concealing and waterproof qualities. As a result, they may overlook the extra features and chemicals contained in the products. Vitargent purchased 51 sun cream products from beauty halls, Watson’s and online shopping platforms such as Kaola.com, Jingdong and Tmall and put them to the fish embryo toxicity test. Its samples came from 37 world-famous brands like Biotherm, Innisfree, Sunplay and Anessa. Vitargent’s Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Tao said, “The UV index in Hong Kong is generally “high” and even “very high” on some days, but what people don’t know is that UV radiation can do harm even on cloudy days, in autumns and winters or in indoor. UV radiation can damage skin over time, so even if you don’t appear to have sunburn, long term exposure from outdoor and indoor activities can also be bad for you. That’s why it’s necessary to put on sun screen. Many people are so busy that they prefer all-in-one sun cream products to save time. Since sunscreen should be applied extensively on the skin, consumers should be aware of the safety and potential risks when making purchases, as studies have shown that chemicals in sunscreen products can penetrate the skin.” In the past few months, Vitargent performed tests on sunscreen samples by adopting the Testing 2.0 technology, which is a patented fish embryo bio-testing technology. Under which, samples are categorised as Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to product safety. The test result is also published on the online consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™, for consumers to identify safe products sold by retailers. Unlike traditional chemical testing methods, Vitargent’s biological testing technology enables the screening of “cocktail effect” caused by mixing over 1,000 toxicants and chemicals within 48 hours. The technology covers chemicals that are not included in the routine test. The zebrafish embryos used in acute toxicity testing of sunscreen have analogues of 84% of genes associated with human diseases[1], hence substances that are toxic to zebrafish embryos are likely to be toxic to human. For the testing of chronic toxicants (EEDs) in sunscreen, as the livers of medaka embryos used in the test emit green fluorescent light in the presence of harmful substances, the intensity of the fluorescence can be used to quantify the toxic chemicals. Test-it™ benchmarks against the national and regional safety standards for cosmetic products, which include standards in the European Union, the United States of America, China and Japan. Horizontal analysis against similar products is also conducted to establish safety standards:  
  • Green Fish means “Excellence” in terms of safety, indicating good performance in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase;
  • Yellow Fish means “Basic” in terms of safety, meaning a product meets the safety baselines in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution;
  • Red Fish means “Sub-Optimal” in terms of safety, indicating a product is below standard in one or more criteria in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.
    Over 50% of sun cream failed safety test, Asian brands outperformed European, US and Australian brands in general Test-it™ rated 16 out of 51 sunscreen samples as Green Fish (Excellent), eight as Yellow Fish (Basic) and 27 as Red Fish (Sub-Optimal). The average price of the 51 samples purchased is 5HKD/ml. The most expensive sample costs 20.6HKD/ml, which is 52 times of the cheapest one which costs 0.4HKD/ml. Among the samples that cost less than 1.7HKD/ml, five samples (29%) were rated Green Fish, two (12%) were rated Yellow Fish and ten (59%) were rated Red Fish; Among the samples that cost between 1.7HKD/ml and 4HKD/ml, eight samples (57%) were rated Green Fish, two (14%) were rated Yellow Fish and four (29%) were rated Red Fish; Among the samples that cost more than 4HKD/ml, only three samples (15%) were rated Green Fish and four (20%) were rated Yellow Fish, while 13 (65%) were rated Red Fish. All in all, most of the low-priced and high-priced sunscreens were not safe, with over half of the samples rated Red Fish. Therefore, consumers are advised to choose carefully. On the contrary, mid-priced samples had the best safety performance. In terms of product origin, Asian brands (from China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea) performed better than European and US brands (from France, Germany and the US) and Australian brands. More than 60% of the samples from Asia were rated Green Fish. (13 Green Fish (62%), four Yellow Fish (19%) and four Red Fish (19%)). Of which, 82% of the samples from Japanese brands were rated Green Fish. On the other hand, European and US brands and Australian brands had disappointing performance in general. Over 70% of samples from Europe and the US were rated Red Fish (three Green Fish (11%), four Yellow Fish (15%) and 20 Red Fish (74%)), while all three samples from Australia were rated Red Fish (100%).     Sunscreen products with SPF 30 or above are less safe; physical sunblock performed better than chemical and hybrid sun cream Jimmy Tao said, “We analyzed the safety test results from the perspectives of SPF and types of sun protection. All samples with SPF value between 15 and 29 were rated Green Fish (three samples (100%)). For those with SPF value ranging from 30 to 50, seven samples were rated Green Fish (21%), six were rated Yellow Fish (18%) and 20 were rated Red Fish (61%). For samples with SPF 50 or above, six were rated Green Fish (40%), two were rated Yellow Fish (13%) and seven were rated Red Fish (47%). In other words, for our test of sun cream products, higher SPF doesn’t necessarily mean higher toxicity. However, the data also shows that sun cream products with SPF 30 or below have outstanding safety quality. Based on the guidelines of the US Environmental Protection Agency[2], sun cream products with SPF 15 can block 93% of UVB radiation, those with SPF 30 can block 97% and those with SPF 45 can block 98%. Thus, products with SPF 30 or above have similar sun blocking ability. It is advisable for consumers to buy sunscreen with SPF 30 or below from brands that are rated Green Fish.” There are three main types of sun protection: through physical means, chemical means and a combination of both. Physical sunscreens work by forming a thin protective layer on the skin that blocks or reflects UV radiation, whereas chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation with chemicals to neutralise and mitigate the direct damage to the skin, thereby achieving the desired effects. “Most of the sun cream products available in the market contain chemical ingredients that are colourless and odourless. As they leave no white cast on skin, the skin tone looks more natural. Nonetheless, our tests found that physical sun cream products are safer than chemical and hybrid ones, with four samples of physical sunscreen rated Green Fish (80%) and one rated Yellow Fish (20%), as compared to chemical sun cream of which two samples were rated Green Fish (11%) and 17 were rated Red Fish (89%), as well as hybrid sunscreen of which five samples were rated Green Fish (28%), four were rated Yellow Fish (22%) and nine were rated Red Fish (50%). Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in physical sunblock are inorganic chemicals that are mild in nature and unlikely to cause irritation, hence suitable for sensitive skins and kids with delicate skins,” said Jimmy Tao.     More than 20 types of EEDs identified, potentially causing cancer and affecting fertility Jimmy Tao also pointed out, “The EED level in 18 out of 51 samples exceeded Vitargent’s safety standards. In particular, four samples were found to contain 12,000-17,000 ng of EEDs per gram, which is even higher than a contraceptive pill (containing 10,000 ng of EEDs). We also identified over 20 types of EEDs in our samples, including the extensively used octocrylene found in 21 samples, octinoxate in 20 samples and Parsol 1789 (avobenzone) in 18 samples. According to the WHO and United Nations, EEDs may cause cancer, reduce reproductive success, lead to immune disorder, precocious puberty and diabetes[3], among other health effects.” Family physician Dr. Chow Chong Kwan said, “the chemicals in sunscreen products can be readily absorbed through skins and transported to different body parts via the bloodstream. Scientific studies have proved that chemicals in sun cream can enter breast milk[4], breast tissue[5], placenta[6] and even in the baby[7]. EEDs such as the commonly found chemical sunscreen and widely used paraben preservatives can disrupt our endocrine system, upset metabolism and affect fertility.[8]Dr. Chow reminded parents that some sunscreen for adults contains fragrances and preservatives that may lead to skin allergy and eczema. Therefore, parents should avoid putting such products on their kids, as they have delicate skin. Instead, they should select products with simple formulas that are specially designed for children. Besides, infants aged under six months shouldn’t use sun cream and should avoid direct sunlight. Dr. Chow also recommended applying sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoor. Because Hong Kong is so humid, sun cream products can be washed away easily by sweat. Thus, people who are sweaty or participating in water sports should re-apply more frequently. However, they should not use sun cream excessively as this will clog pores. Sunscreen, no matter the SPF value, can only stay effective for two hours, so users should reapply to uncovered body parts every now and then. It is also recommended to drink more water after prolonged sun exposure to rehydrate, and use lotion to moisturise skin.  

END

   
[1] Howe et al.  The zebrafish reference genome sequence and its relationship to the human genome. Nature. (496-7446):498-503.
[2] The burning Facts. available at https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/0B1_f96X6Yt9ARnJRZjBkZGs5SE0.
[3] WHO & UNEP. State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals-2012.  Available at http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/endocrine/en/
[4] Chimia 2008, 62: 345-351.
[5] Journal of Applied Toxicology. 2012, 32(3):219-232.
[6] Talanta. 2011, 84, 702-709.
[7] Science of Total Environment. 2013, 461-462, 214-221.
[8] International Journal of Andrology. 2012, 35, 424-436.
" target="_blank">Over 50% of sunscreen samples failed bio-toxicity tests More than 20 types of estrogenic endocrine disruptors identified, potentially causing cancer and affecting fertility
Vitargent publishes safe to buy list of instant coffee rated “Green Fish”   (Hong Kong, 13 July 2017) Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited (“Vitargent”) extends its reach to coffee products and publishes test results of instant coffee products available in the market on its Test-it™ information platform (www.fishqc.com). Known for its safety examination of cooking oil and BB cream, Vitargent has applied the “transgenic medaka” and “zebrafish” embryo toxicity testing technology, which is unique in the world and developed by Hong Kong scientists, on instant coffee samples. The test rated 13 out of 30 samples as Green Fish (excellent), seven samples as Yellow Fish (basic) and ten samples as Red Fish (sub-optimal). In terms of overall safety, instant coffee brands from Southeast Asia underperformed their European and American counterparts. In particular, cappuccino is the lease safe type of coffee to drink as more than half of the samples failed the safety test. Furthermore, the test also suggested that the toxicity of instant coffee was 1.8 times of the level of chain coffee. Nonetheless, as coffee comprises only 5-9% of the total contents of certain samples tested, the toxicity of instant coffee is presumed to be from the additives such as stabilizers, emulsifiers, anticaking agents and flavouring agents that make up the rest of the products. Consumers are recommended to choose brands that are rated Green Fish when purchasing instant coffee.   Instant coffee contains various chemical additives screened out by Vitargent with innovative biological testing technology Drinking coffee has become a global phenomenon in recent years. Not only does it set new trends in catering, it also becomes a status symbol. As instant coffee costs less that chain coffee, introduces new flavour constantly and is easy to brew, many caffeine heads love to make coffee by themselves at work and at home. However, consumers may overlook the additives in instant coffee products which pose health risks when consumed excessively. In view of this, Vitargent purchased 30 best-selling instant coffee products from supermarkets and online shopping platforms, namely Jingdong and Tmall, for fish embryos toxicity tests in May 2017. Samples tested include products from 11 famous brands such as Starbucks, Nestle and Maxwell. Vitargent’s Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Tao said, “Instant food is popular in Hong Kong as the locals lead a fast-paced way of life. But for ready-to-serve products to maintain quality and imitate fresh food, manufactures have to add various additives in the formula to enhance texture, colour, smell and taste. In this regard, Vitargent performed test on instant coffee samples by adopting the Testing 2.0 technology, which is the world’s first fish embryo biological testing technology. Under the test, product samples are categorised into Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to product safety. The test result is also published on our online consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™, for consumers to identify safe products sold by retailers.” Unlike conventional chemical testing methods, Vitargent’s biological testing technology enables screening of “cocktail effect” caused by mixing over 1,000 toxicants and chemicals within 48 hours. The technology also covers chemicals that are not included in the routine test. Given that zebrafish has analogues of 84% of genes that associate with human diseases[1] and substances that are toxic to zebrafish embryos are likely to be toxic to human, they are used in the test on acute toxicants in instant coffee. Test-it™ benchmarks against international safety standards of the Codex Alimentarius[2] and European Union (EU) [3],[4],[5], as well as national safety standards of the United States of America[6], China[7] and Japan[8]. Horizontal analysis against similar products is also conducted to establish safety standards:  
  • Green Fish means “Excellence” in terms of safety, indicating good performance in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase;
  • Yellow Fish means “Basic” in terms of safety, meaning a product meets the safety baselines in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution;
  • Red Fish means “Sub-Optimal” in terms of safety, indicating a product is below standard in one or more criteria in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.
  30% of instant coffee samples failed biological toxicity test while European and American products outperformed those from Southeast Asian  The test result of Test-it™ rated 13 out of 30 instant coffee samples as Green Fish (Excellent), seven as Yellow Fish (Basic) and ten as Red Fish (Sub-Optimal). The average price of the 30 samples purchased is 4 HKD/packet. The most expensive sample costs 11.4 HKD/packet, which is 11 times of the cheapest one which costs 1 HKD/packet. For samples that cost below 2.7 HKD/packet, four of them are rated Green Fish (45%), two are rated Yellow Fish (22%) and three are rated Red Fish (33%); For samples that cost between 2.7 HKD/packet to 3.8 HKD/packet, each of Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish accounts for five, one and three of the samples, representing 56%, 11% and 33% respectively; For samples that cost more than 3.8 HKD/packet, each of the Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish takes up more or less the same proportion, with four of the samples (33%) respectively. All in all, high-priced samples are hit-and-miss and pricy products are not necessarily safer. On the contrary, mid-priced samples performed better in the test. In terms of brand origins, European and American brands (from United Kingdom and Germany) outperformed Southeast Asian brands (from Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand). Each of Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish takes up three (30%), four (40%) and three (30%) of samples from Southeast Asian brands respectively. For European and American products, each of Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish accounts for four (67%), two (33%) and zero (0%). The test of East Asian brands (from China, Japan and Korea) shows mixed results, with six rated Green Fish (43%), one rated Yellow Fish (7%) and seven rated Red Fish (50%).   Instant coffee is more toxic than chain coffee and food additives are the reason Mr. Jimmy Tao said, “We compared the test results of instant coffee against the coffee database and found that, in acute toxicity test, instant coffee is 1.8 times more toxic than chain coffee. No doubt this was caused by certain ingredients in the products. Under the food labelling regulations of Europe[9], United States[10] and Hong Kong[11], ingredients and contents must be listed in descending order of weight or volume determined as at the time of their use when the food was packaged. When looking into the food labels of our instant coffee samples, nearly 90% of them start with food additives, including the most common creamer (non-dairy creamer), sugar, emulsifiers and stabilisers, and instant coffee power often ranks low or is put at the end of the list. The food labels of some samples even state that instant coffee powder only comprises less than one-tenth of the products (5%-9%), while the rest is made up of various additives.” “The result also found that cappuccino is the least safe product category as a whole, with four samples rated Red Fish (57%), followed by white coffee, with two samples rated Red Fish (40%). Through analysis, we discovered that a cup of cappuccino may contain 15 types of additives on average, the highest number among instant coffee products, followed by white coffee which contains 11 types on average. This finding is in line with the test result of Test-it™: it seems that the more additives in the instant coffee sample, the less likely it will pass the test.” Mr. Jimmy Tao pointed out that, additives are crucial to the food industry as they not only improve stability of products, but also enhance the colour, smell and taste and extend shelf life.  Nonetheless, certain chemical compounds may pose potential health risks. Non-dairy creamer, which is primarily made up of hydrogenated vegetable oil, glucose syrup and casein, often ranks top on the composition labels of instant coffee products. This ingredient boosts solubility of coffee and gives its milky texture in water, but does not necessarily contain milk. As most non-dairy creamer contains hydrogenated fats and trans fats, excessive consumption can increase the level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the body and in turn, the risks of cardiovascular diseases[12]. Recent scientific studies also proved that trans fats are associated with Alzheimer's disease[13], infertility[14], breast cancer[15] and prostate cancer[16]. The nutrient composition of instant coffee, especially the intake of fat, calorie and sugar, is worth paying attention too, as sugar is one of the main ingredients. The nutrition labels of some samples tested suggest a packet of the products contains 19g of sugar, when considering taking three meals a day, such products exceed the sugar intake limit recommended by WHO, which is no more than 50g[17] or about ten teaspoons a day. Moreover, among the 14 samples that explicitly specify sugar content, a packet of the products contains 0.6g to 19g of sugar. Based on the instructions on the product packages, eight samples were found to contain 6g to 10g of sugar per 100ml and therefore go pass the guidelines of the Centre for Food Safety on sugar content, which recommend not more than 5g per 100ml[18]. As revealed by the article titled “The toxic truth about sugar” published on the science magazine Nature in 2012, sugar is an addictive substance and excessive consumption can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, liver diseases and other illnesses[19]. Mr. Jimmy Tao reminds consumers, “When purchasing instant coffee from the market, it is best to pay attention to the nutrition and composition labels on the packaging and choose products that are low in sugar and additives. For information of “Green Fish” products that passed the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients, the public can also visit the website of Test-it™ (www.fishqc.com) and enjoy safer shopping.”    
[1] Howe et al.  The zebrafish reference genome sequence and its relationship to the human genome. Nature. 498-503; doi:10.1038/nature12111.
[2] CODEX STAN 192-1995. General Standard for Food Additives.
[3] Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on food additives. Official Journal of the European Union. L 354/16. 31.12.2008.
[4] Commission Regulation (EU) No 1130/2011 of 11 November 2011. amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on food additives by establishing a Union list of food additives approved for use in food additives, food enzymes, food flavourings and nutrients.  Official Journal of the European Union.  L 295/178. 12.11.2011.
[5] Commission Regulation (EU) No 1129/2011 of 11 November 2011, amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council by establishing a Union list of food additives.  Official Journal of the European Union. L 295/1. 12.11.2011.
[6] USFDA Food additive status list, Color Additives in Food, and Everything added to food in the United States (EAFUS).
[7] GB 2760-2014. Food Safety Standards: Food Additives Standards.
[8] Standards for use, according to use categories.  Effective from September 26, 2016.
[9] 21 CFR 101.4(a).  Code of Federal Regulations: Food; designation of ingredients.
[10] Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) Regulations (Cap.132W)
[11] Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the of 25 October 2011。 Official J Eur Union. L 304/18.  22.11.2011.
[12] Vega-Lopez et al. Altherosclerosis. 2009, 207(1): 208-212.
[13] Grimm et al. J Nutr Biochem. 23(10):1214-1223.
[14] Chavarro et al., Hum Reprod. 2014, 29(3): 429-440.
[15] Makarem et al. Annu Rev Nutr. 2013, 33:319-348.
[16] Allott et al. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2017, 20(1): 48-54.
[17] WHO Healthy diet.  Fact sheet No394. Updated September 2015.
[18] Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) Regulations (Cap. 132W).
[19] Lustig et al. Nature. 2012, 27-29. Doi:10.1038/482027a.
" target="_blank">30% of instant coffee samples failed biotoxicity test and some contain 90% additives
四成暢銷BB霜品牌未能通過生物毒性檢測 國際知名品牌被驗出高濃度類雌激素 毒性含量接近一粒避孕丸   (香港,2017年6月12日) 水中銀(國際)生物科技有限公司(水中銀)的小魚親測平台(www.fishqc.com) 繼上月食用油檢測發佈後,進軍化妝品領域,以港人發明,全球獨家「轉基因鯖鱂魚」及「斑馬魚」胚胎毒性測試技術為市面43個暢銷BB霜及氣墊BB霜樣本進行檢測。結果顯示,於樣本安全測試中,24個樣本顯示為綠魚 (代表品質卓越)、1個樣本為黃魚 (代表基本合格),18個樣本為紅魚 (代表有待改善)。有國際知名BB霜品牌被驗出高濃度類雌激素,當中,類雌激素含量最高的樣本,每克接近一粒避孕丸。另外,結果亦發現,大多數標籤防曬系數(SPF)功能的樣本,其SPF數值越高,未能通過安全測試的樣本數目亦會相對提高,市民於選購時須加倍留意。   BB霜或含有害化學物質 水中銀透過嶄新生物測試Testing 2.0技術助檢測 隨著日、韓彩妝產品大熱,BB霜熱潮直捲本港,其功能由原來的遮瑕、修護,演變至防曬、保濕、美白、淡斑、抗皺等,用途廣泛。然而,在選擇彩妝產品時,市民容易忽略了產品附加的功能或包含化學物質,有機會增加皮膚敏感的風險,導致紅腫、痕癢等過敏反應。有見及此,水中銀於2016至2017年間,從各大化妝品品牌專櫃、網上平台(Amazon、網易、京東,天貓)選購了32個品牌,共43個BB霜及氣墊BB霜樣本作魚胚胎毒性檢測,當中包含了國際知名品牌如YvesSaintLaurent, M.A.C., Dior, Innisfree, SKII, Laneige, Shisheido, 雪肌精, 雪花秀等。 水中銀首席執行官杜偉樑先生表示:「水中銀以魚胚胎生物測試Testing 2.0技術為BB霜樣本進行檢測,並根據檢測結果把產品安全屬性分為三類:綠魚—黃魚—紅魚,發佈於轄下網上消費品安全資訊平台 —『小魚親測』,讓消費者易於識別在零售店購買的產品其安全屬性。有別於傳統化學測試,生物測試可於48小時內篩選超過1,000種有毒化學物,覆蓋不在恆常檢測範圍內的指標。」 「小魚親測」參考歐盟、美國、中國及日本等多個國家與地區化妝品安全標準,通過同類產品的橫向比較制定其安全準則: 綠魚代表「品質卓越」,產品於急性、慢性毒檢測與及禁用成分篩查中表現理想,消費者可以安心選購; 黃魚代表「基本合格」,產品於急性、慢性毒檢測與及禁用成分篩查中基本合格,消費者選購時要謹慎; 紅魚代表「有待改善」,產品於急性、慢性毒檢測與及禁用成分篩查中存在一項或多項未達標準,建議消費者選購時要特別謹慎。   四成BB霜未能通過安全檢測 亞洲產地較歐美優勝 「小魚親測」檢測結果顯示,於43個BB霜樣本當中,24個樣本顯示為綠魚 (代表品質卓越)、1個樣本為黃魚 (代表基本合格),18個樣本為紅魚 (代表有待改善)。 價格而言,於採購的43個樣本當中,價格的中位數為9.0港幣/克。價格最低為1.9港幣/克,最高為34.3港幣/克,相差18倍。 價格在3.6港幣/克以下的樣本,綠魚僅佔4個(29%),黃魚佔1個(7%),紅魚比例高達9個(64%); 價格範圍在3.6港幣/克至9.5港幣/克的樣本,綠魚佔13個(87%),紅魚僅2個(13%); 價格在9.5港幣/克以上的樣本,綠魚和紅魚各佔7個(50%)。 總括而言,大部分低價BB霜的安全質量未如理想,建議消費者選購時要特別謹慎;高價BB霜好壞參半,即使知名昂貴品牌亦未必能夠如實反映,消費者要審慎留意;反之,價格中等的樣本,在是次檢測中表現較優勝。 就品牌生產地,亞洲與歐美相比下表現較佳,半數或以上的亞洲品牌被列入綠魚 [綠魚佔15個(58%),黄魚1個(4%),红魚9個(38%)]。其中,日本出產的樣本,綠魚比例高達88%;而韓國出產的樣本,綠魚比例亦高於80%。   知名BB霜被驗出高濃度類雌激素 含量如同避孕丸 於是次抽檢中,數款國際知名品牌BB霜被驗出高濃度類雌激素,其中一款歐洲BB霜的檢測結果發現其類雌激素含量達8,400納克/克,每克的含量接近一粒避孕丸(其類雌激素含量為10,000納克)。世界衛生組織與聯合國已表明,類雌激素可能引發人體各種疾病,如癌症、生殖能力下降、神經系統紊亂、兒童性早熟、糖尿病等1。 另外,於43個BB霜樣本當中,42個添加了防曬系數(SPF)功能。檢測結果發現: SPF15以下的樣本,綠魚佔1個 (100%); SPF15-SPF30的樣本,綠魚佔13個 (68%) ,紅魚佔6個 (32%); SPF30以上的樣本,綠魚佔10個(44%),黃魚佔1個(4%),紅魚佔12個(52%) 。 杜偉樑先生指出:「檢測結果顯示,隨著SPF數值增加,未能通過『小魚親測』之安全測試的樣本數目亦會相對提高。根據美國環保局的指引2。SPF15能遮擋93%的UVB輻射;SPF30能遮擋97%的UVB輻射;而SPF45的產品能遮擋98%的輻射。從此推論,SPF30以上的防曬效果其實並沒太大分別,消費者在選購SPF30以上的BB霜時可給予考慮,謹慎選擇『綠魚』品牌。」 就BB霜的檢測結果,香港城市大學生物醫學系講座教授鄭淑嫻教授表示:「魚胚胎技術於藥物研發領域已應用了十五年以上,並建立了一系列國際標準的檢測方法。此技術應用於日常生活必需品,實是大勢所趨,為國際建構一個食、用品安全網。在化妝品中,包括是次檢測的BB霜,不難找到一些有害物質,譬如說較常見的對羥基苯甲酸酯 (Paraben)防腐劑,與及甲氧基肉桂酸辛酯 (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate)等防紫外線的化學成分。科學研究證實,這些物質容易被身體吸收,可於母乳3、乳房組織4甚至胎盤5被發現。另外,這些物質屬已知的雌激素內分泌干擾物,可以干擾內分泌系統,長遠有機會導致癌症、不育等健康問題。」 杜偉樑先生總結:「BB霜的附加功能如防曬、保濕、美白、抗皺等會令消費者錯誤把其當作護膚品使用。我們建議消費者應按量使用BB霜,減少因塗抹過度而引申不必要的健康警號。同時,市民可登上小魚親測(www.fishqc.com),檢示通過急性、慢性毒檢測與及禁用成分篩查的『綠魚』品牌,作更安心的購買選擇。」
-完-
參考文獻:
1 WHO & UNEP. State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals-2012. Available at http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/endocrine/en/
2 The burning Facts. available at https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/0B1_f96X6Yt9ARnJRZjBkZGs5SE0.
3 Schlump et al. Endocrine active UV filters: developmental toxicity and exposure through breast milk. Chimia 2008, 62: 345-351.
4 Barr et al. Measurement of paraben concentrations in human breast tissue at serial locations across the breast from axilla to sternum. J Appl Toxicol. 2012, 32(3):219-232.
5 Valle-Sistac et al. Determination of parabens and benzophenone-type UV filters in human plancenta. First description of the existence of bencyl paraben and benzophenone-4. Environ Int. 2016, 88: 243-249.
 " target="_blank">BB霜「綠魚」安全購買榜單 新聞發佈會
40 percent of best selling BB Creams do not pass biotechnological toxicity screening

World renowned brands contain high concentration of estrogen

Toxicity level equivalent to a contraceptive pill

  (Hong Kong, May 23rd, 2017) Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited known for applying its proprietary "Transgenic Medaka" and "Zebrafish Fish" Embryo Toxicity (FET) testing technology (Testing 2.0) on food and skincare products, introduces the world's first consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™(
www.fishqc.com). The platform proceeds to testing cosmetic products following last month’s publication on edible oil. Test-it uses Testing 2.0 biological testing technology to examine consumer product safety and has published the results of the inaugural test project on 43 best selling BB Cream and BB Cushion products in the market. Test results put 24 types in the Green Fish category, denoting the products are excellent in terms of safety; 1 in the Yellow Fish category, indicating their safety level is basic, and 18 are categorized as Red Fish, with safety at sub-optimal standards. Test results show high concentration of estrogen in world renowned brands with toxicity level equivalent to a contraceptive pill. Test results also show that samples with higher SPF level have a lower passing rate in the safety screening test. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.   BB Creams contain chemical toxicants Revolutionary Testing 2.0 technology traces all harmful substances  A growing popularity of BB Cream products in Hong Kong has emerged from the Japanese and Korean beauty trending. The multifunctional product encompasses properties of an all-in-one foundation, concealer, moisturizer, primer and SPF power. However, consumers often overlooked the chemical toxicants in the additional functions of the products. causing skin allergies such as rashes and pruritus.  From 2016 to 2017Test-it™ sampled 43 BB Cream and BB Cushion products from 32 different brands. The samples purchased from supermarkets, chain stores and online stores as a consumer including world renowned brands YvesSaintLaurent, M.A.C, Dior, Innisfree, SKII, Laneige, Shisheido, Sekkisei and Sulwhasoo.   Vitargent's Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Tao said: "Vitargent applies fish embryo Testing 2.0 technology to conduct toxicity screening on the BB Cream samples. Test results put products into three categories: Green Fish-Yellow Fish-Red Fish, published onto consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™to provide product safety references for consumers. Biological test is proven to have a capacity to screen over 1,000 toxicants in 48 hours, covering harmful substances missing in the existing regulatory standard.   Test-it™ benchmarks against the international product safety standards of the European Union (EU), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as well as the national safety standards of the US, Japan and China. Horizontal analyses against similar products are also conducted.  
  • Green Fish means "Excellence" in safety, indicating good performance under screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase.
  • Yellow Fish means "Basic" in safety, meaning a product meets the safety baselines in the screening of acute and chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution.
  • Red Fish means "Sub-Optimal" in safety, indicating a product is below standard in one or more criteria in the screening of acute and chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.
    40 percent of BB Creams do not pass biotechnological toxicity screening BB Creams from Asia show better performance Vitargent tested 43 BB Creams samples. The test showed that 24 samples are categorized as Green Fish(Excellence), while 1 sample is Yellow Fish(Basic) and 18 are Red Fish(Sub-Optimal).   The median price of the 43 samples is HK$9.0 per gram. The cheapest BB Cream costs HKD$1.9 per gram while the most expensive BB Cream costs 18 times more at HKD $34.3 per gram. Of the 40 brands priced at below $3.6 per gram, 4 are categorized Green Fish(29%), 1 Yellow Fish(7%) and 9 Red Fish(64%). Of the 31 samples in the price range of $3.6-$9.5 per gram, 13 are categorized Green Fish(87%), 2 Red Fish(13%). Among the samples priced above HK$9.5 per gram, 7 are categorized Green Fish(50%), 7 are categorized Red Fish(50%).   The test results show that most cheap BB Cream are unsafe. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution. Expensive BB Cream show a mixed result, luxurious brand does not  represent safety. Median priced BB Cream show the most favorable result in this screening.   By production origin, BB Creams made in Asia performed better. More than half of the tested products 15 (58%) are Green Fish, 1 (4%) is categorized Yellow Fish and 9(38%) are Red Fish. BB Cream made in Japan has a high rate of Green Fish (88%), as well as BB Cream made in Korea (80%).   World renowned brands contain high concentration of estrogen Toxicity level equivalent to a contraceptive pill In the random sampling, a few world renowned BB Cream brand samples showed a high concentration of estrogen. One of these samples contain 8,400ng/g, containing a level of estrogen    equivalent to a contraceptive pill ( 10,000ng/g). According to World Health Organization, estrogen may cause defects including cancers, infertility, neurological disorders, precocious puberty and diabetes.   42 out of the 43 BB Cream samples contains SPF function. Test results showed that 1 sample below SPF 15 is categorized as Green Fish ( 100%). In the samples with SPF15-SPF30, 13 are categorized as Green Fish(68%), 6 are categorized as Red Fish(32%). In the samples higher than SPF30, 10 are categorized as Green Fish(44%), 1 categorized  Yellow Fish and 12 categorized as Red Fish(52%).   Jimmy Tao said: “Test result shows that an increase in SPF indicates a lower passing rate in the Test-it™ toxicity screening. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, SPF15 filters out 93% of UVB rays. SPF  30 filters out 97% UVB rays and SPF45 filters out 98% UBV rays. From this result, products above SPF30 does not have a significant advantage. Consumers are recommended to choose Green Fish products when purchasing BB Cream with SPF30.”   Professor Cheng Shuk Han, Chair Professor of Molecular Medicine Associate Dean (SVM) of the City University of Hong Kong, said: “Fish embryo toxicity biotechnology had been applied to pharmaceutical research and development for 15 years with an internationally standardized regulations. It is the wave of the future to apply this technology in consumer products, establishing a international safety platform. Cosmetic products, including BB Cream in the test, contain chemical toxicants including paraben, preservatives and ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate. These substances are scientifically proven to have high absorbance rate, found in breast milk, breast tissues, and even placenta. Excessive intake of these endocrine disruptors may cause cancers and infertility in the long term.”   Jimmy Tao concludes: “The additional functions of BB Cream products including SPF, moisturizer, whitening and anti wrinkling could mislead consumers, they may mistakenly wear BB Cream as skin care products. We recommend consumers to wear BB Cream with moderation to avoid health risks from excessive application. For safe purchasing, the public can log in to Test-it™(www.fishqc.com) for references of Green Fish products, which passed acute and chronicle toxicity screening.”  

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1 WHO & UNEP. State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals-2012. Available at http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/endocrine/en/
2 The burning Facts. available at https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/0B1_f96X6Yt9ARnJRZjBkZGs5SE0.
3 Schlump et al. Endocrine active UV filters: developmental toxicity and exposure through breast milk. Chimia 2008, 62: 345-351.
4 Barr et al. Measurement of paraben concentrations in human breast tissue at serial locations across the breast from axilla to sternum. J Appl Toxicol. 2012, 32(3):219-232.
5 Valle-Sistac et al. Determination of parabens and benzophenone-type UV filters in human plancenta. First description of the existence of bencyl paraben and benzophenone-4. Environ Int. 2016, 88: 243-249.
 
" target="_blank">40 percent of best selling BB Creams do not pass biotechnological toxicity screening World renowned brands contain high concentration of estrogen Toxicity level equivalent to a contraceptive pill
Vitargent introduces world’s first product safety information platform applying proprietary Testing 2.0 biological testing technology (Hong Kong, May 23, 2017) Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Ltd. (“Vitargent”), known for applying its proprietary “Transgenic Medaka” and “Zebrafish Fish” Embryo Toxicity (FET) testing technology (Testing 2.0) on food and skincare products, introduces the world’s first consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™. The platform uses Testing 2.0 biological testing technology to examine consumer product safety and has published the results of the inaugural test project on 115 types of edible oil originated from Hong Kong, China, Italy, the US and other countries. Test results put 49 types of oil in the Green Fish category, denoting the products are excellent in terms of safety; 23 in the Yellow Fish category, indicating their safety level is basic, and 43 are categorized as Red Fish, with safety at sub-optimal standards. More than 70% of the olive oil samples are categorized as Red Fish, and edible oils from Europe turned out to have the lowest performance, with more than 50% of the samples categorized as Red Fish.   Test-it™ hailed as world’s first product safety information platform Pioneered by Vitargent, Test-it™ (on www.fishqc.com) is hailed as the first in the world to use Testing 2.0 bio-testing technology on consumer products and provide information on consumer product safety. The technology uses fish embryos to examine product toxicity, an increasingly adopted means for toxicity screening. The goal is to enhance the transparency of consumer product safety and help consumers make informed safer product choices based on objective scientific data. Vitargent’s Founder and Chief Commercial Officer Eric Chen said: “Traditional Testing 1.0 and existing regulations only set the basic requirements for market entry. Test-it™ regularly samples different food items and daily necessities, by purchasing them from supermarkets, chain stores and online stores as a consumer. After Testing 2.0 screening, individual products are categorized as Green Fish, Yellow Fish or Red Fish to help consumers identify product safety.” Test-it™ benchmarks against the international product safety standards of the European Union (EU), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as well as the national safety standards of the US, Japan and China. Horizontal analyses against similar products are also conducted. •       Green Fish means “Excellence” in safety, indicating good performance under screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase. •       Yellow Fish means “Basic” in safety, meaning a product meets the safety baselines in the screening of acute and chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution. •       Red Fish means “Sub-Optimal” in safety, indicating a product is below standard in one or more criteria in the screening of acute and chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution. Vitargent’s Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Tao said: “Test-it™ is intended to commend excellent companies and products, and motivate below-standard companies and brands to actively improve their production process. This will give consumers greater confidence in making purchases and help brands develop long-term benefits. In the initial stage, Test-it™ will publish all Green Fish (excellent) products, and will contact the product manufacturers and suppliers of Yellow Fish and Red Fish products to discuss improvement plans.”  
  Test-it™ releases safety findings of 100-plus edible oils The first type of Test-it™ product is edible oil, a daily necessity marred by gutter oil scandals. Vitargent purchased 115 types of edible oil from major supermarket chains, including ParknShop, Wellcome, DCH Food Mart, AEON, City’Super, Fusion and Market Place by Jasons. Samples included products of internationally renowned brands such as Knife Oil, Filippo Berio, Lion & Globe, Casino and others from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Italy, the US and other countries. Based on the test results, 49 of the 115 samples are categorized as Green Fish, 23 as Yellow Fish and 43 as Red Fish. Vitargent tested 14 categories of commonly used edible oils. The test showed that coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil and sesame oil, generally believed to be healthier by Hong Kong consumers, had below average results. Only one out of 5 coconut oil samples, or 20%, is categorized as Green Fish, while 2 samples (40%) are Yellow Fish and 2 (40%) are Red Fish. Similarly, only 7 out of 44 olive oil samples tested (16%) are Green Fish, 7 (16%) are Yellow Fish, and 30 (68%) are Red Fish. All the flaxseed oil, Canola oil and sesame oil tested are categorized Red Fish. Edible oils from Europe categorized lowest, and price does not reflect safety By production origin, edible oils made in Europe are lowest in ranking. More than half of the tested products (57%) are Red Fish, and only 26% are categorized Green Fish. Oils made in Asia performed better. About 20% of the Hong Kong brands in the test are Red Fish while more than 50% are categorized Green Fish, which are safe choices for consumers. The test results also show that expensive oil may not be safer. The median price of the 115 samples is HK$87.4 per litre. Of the 40 brands priced at above $130 per litre, six are categorized Green Fish, five Yellow Fish and 29 Red Fish. Of the 31 samples in the price range of $50-$130 per litre, 13 are categorized Green Fish, eight Yellow Fish and 10 Red Fish. Among the 44 samples priced below HK$50 per litre, 30 are categorized Green Fish, 10 Yellow Fish and four Red Fish. The cheapest oil costs $15 per litre while the most expensive oil, from Italy, costs 140 times more at HK$2,084 per litre. In the random sampling, two edible oil samples that Vitargent bought off the shelf had passed their use-by date. One of these samples is categorized Red Fish, indicating toxicity level higher than some known gutter oil. Test-it™ technology surpasses standard edible oil indicators Mr Tao was astounded by the results. “Theoretically, edible oils in the market should have passed traditional regulatory checks before they were put on the shelf. However, Test-it™ shows up all toxicants in the products,” he said. “Under current regulations, edible oil is tested for a limited number of factors such as Benzo(a)pyrene, aflatoxins, acid value, peroxide value, total polar compounds and heavy metals. However, there may be other substances such as highly toxic lipid peroxidation products, pesticide residue, plant toxins and preservatives not covered by the regulatory standards. Excessive intake of these substances may have adverse effects on the human body, or cause cancer over the long-term. Test-it™ uses cutting-edge biological testing technology to cover extra potential harmful substances outside of the regulatory standards. This contributes to enhancing consumer product safety significantly.” Revolutionary Testing 2.0 technology traces all harmful substances  The general public is deeply concerned with food and consumer products safety as scandals of rotten meat, gutter oil, high lead content in drinking water and cancer-causing substances in skincare and cosmetics continue to make headlines. WHO and UN reports suggest we are surrounded by more than 100,000 chemicals in our daily life1. Some are linked with health problems like cancer, infertility, precocious puberty, obesity, neurological disorders2. However, the precision rate of traditional chemical toxicity testing, still at the Testing 1.0 level, is as low as 20%3. Due to cost and time constraints, only 5 to 10 toxicants can be screened at one time through such traditional test methods. Other harmful substances not covered by standard testing will be missed in the screening. This means products that have passed traditional testing methods may still contain harmful substances not covered by existing screening practices. This may pose serious threats to consumers. Prof. Ian Cotgreave, advisor of Vitargent’s international scientists committee and professor of toxicology of Karolinska Institutet, said: “The world faces very serious safety problems with food and consumer products. However, existing standard tests fail to effectively screen a number of toxicants and estrogens harmful to public health. Vitargent’s patented Zebrafish Embryo Toxicity Test technologies have been extensively applied in pharmaceutical R&D in the past 10 years. As 84% of genes known to be associated with human diseases have a Zebrafish counterpart4, Zebrafish can be used to mimic human metabolic system. Therefore, substances harmful to Zebrafish might also be harmful to human beings. When a Zebrafish embryo is exposed to toxicants, it will develop adverse reaction within 48 hours. Vitargent’s Testing 2.0 technology is a new beacon in the world. It can prompt industries to be more conscious of product safety and redefine global consumer product safety rules.” Vitargent is the only ISO17025 accredited company in Asia that provides FET testing technologies. The test results are officially recognised in more than 100 countries. The patented technology has been adopted by international certification service SGS and TÜV (Technischer Überwachungsverein). TÜV’s executive VP of the food services cluster Stanley Hung welcomed Vitargent’s Testing 2.0 technology. “We appreciate Vitargent’s leading position in fish embryo testing technologies and how such technologies complement existing chemical testing. We also believe in the capabilities of its international scientists committee and its market development potential. We will endeavour to promote the cutting-edge technologies to different industries and government organisations, and contribute to enhancing overall product safety.” Vitargent plans to test a different product category every month in the next 12 months, some examples may include coffee, ice-cream, milk, yogurt, face cream, facial masks, lipstick, lip balm, foundation, toothpaste, baby food and baby skincare products. Results of the tests will be published on the Test-it™ platform.
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1. Substance Registry Services Fact Sheet, available at ofmpub.epa.gov/sor_internet/registry/substreg/educationalresources. 2. WHO & UNEP. State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals-2012.  Available at http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/endocrine/en/ 3. Frequently asked questions about MICROTOX® for drinking water surveillance. 4. Howe, K. et al. The zebrafish reference genome sequence and its relationship to the human genome.  Nature  496, 498–503 (2013).
 " target="_blank">Vitargent introduces world’s first product safety information platform applying proprietary Testing 2.0 biological testing technology
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