Ink Poisoning Scam: Fish n’ Chips Anyone?

September 19, 2009

Today’s Hong Kong media scare is a silly story about “ink poisoning”. For years the British have scoffed down fish n’ chips from newspapers soaked in vinegar and tomato sauce! Think about the ink seepage from that? Any side effects or poisonings?

The obvious answer is “no”. No side effects. However, there are direct effects from eating too many fried food items such as chips and deep-fried mars bars … but that’s another story!

French fry lovers told to ink twice before they eat
Adele Wong
Friday, September 18, 2009

Diners who spread their french fries across paper tray mats in fast-food restaurants to get maximum ketchup coverage may be risking ink poisoning.The warning comes from the unlikely source of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which says the greasy practice is hazardous because ink from the paper may seep into the fries.

But experts at the Centre for Food Safety say the party’s claim is without foundation.

A random DAB inspection of McDonald’s and KFC outlets in the mainland found written warnings advising customers not to put food directly on top of paper mats.

Hong Kong has no such warnings, said Danny Chan Chung-cheung of the DAB.

As a result, mainlanders have developed the habit of putting a paper napkin down before placing their food on the trays.

The center said there is no scientific evidence to prove that ink on food may damage your health.

But Chan urged the center to follow up on the matter and also promote higher hygiene standards in the city’s fast food chains by, for example, placing wash basins near restaurant cashiers and in customer areas to encourage handwashing.

A spokeswoman for the center said customers should not place food directly on tray mats because they are not designed for that purpose.

But she added studies show that when printing ink is ingested it does not pose significant health risks.

A McDonald’s spokeswoman said: “All packaging that is in contact with our food, including the tray mat, are governed by strict quality control measures.

“We also ensure the paint being used [on tray mats] meets international food safety requirements.”

A KFC spokeswoman said all its packaging materials, including paper used in food baskets, are up to food safety standards.

“We are now [considering putting] precautionary wordings on all tray mats,” the spokeswoman said.

Dr Yeung Chi-hung, senior lecturer at Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s department of applied biology and chemical technology, said customers need not worry too much about the health risks of ink.

Yeung said it used to be a general practice in Hong Kong for people to wrap food such as raw meat in newspapers, and he is not aware of any harmful side effects.

Whether ink from tray mats may be absorbed by the food depends on the length of exposure and the area of contact, he said.


Tastebuds Tantalized or Traumatized?

September 15, 2009

As the annual Mid-Autumn Festival fast approaches, Hongkongers are bombarded with plenty of mooncake offerings. Here’s one spotted earlier in one of the supermarket chains:


Chinese ham with mixed nuts mooncake. So that means: soft, rubbery, salty, savoury ham, with hard, crunchy, stick-in-your-teeth mixed nuts, enveloped with sweet, sticky, powdery stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth lotus seed paste. A classic Chinese recipe or a new-fangled Far East concoction?

Has anyone else spotted any “interesting” mookcake flavour combinations?

The cost and packaging of mooncakes is also very interesting. Retailers always try to sell mooncakes with the lucky number 8 in the price, but bizarrely also always sell mooncakes in unlucky boxes of 4. Why is this? With the above-mentioned ham-nuts mooncake item, a box of 4 mooncakes sell for a seemingly lucky $178, which works out to be an apparently unlucky $44.50 per mooncake.


#26 Hong Kong Hocus Pocus

September 1, 2009

Power points
Kari Schroeder gives a free talk on matrix energetics. 7pm-9pm, Balance Health, 27/F, 3-5 Arbuthnot Rd, Central.

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#25 Hong Kong Hocus Pocus

August 25, 2009

Bodily sounds
Angie Tourani gives a free introduction to BodyTalk therapy, ahead of workshops. Rm 708 Rightful Centre, 11 Tak Hing St, Kowloon; workshops, HK$8,800 (US$1,100).

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Chinese Cherry Picking

August 21, 2009

The following sentence sounds pretty lucky: “Eight [people] work at the “888” noodle shop in the basement of the Cameron Centre in Cameron Road” … until you realize these “lucky eight” were victims who succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Do people (i.e. numerologists, Chinese astrologists, Fung Shui practitioners, and those who believe in such Hocus Pocus) take notice of the “lucky” number eight in such negative situations? Clearly not. It is human nature that people only pay attention to “lucky” numbers that confirm their biases and will usually ignore any incidents that reject their predetermined view.

Related Post Chinese Fiddlesticks!

Reference (SCMP; subscription required)

10 ill after inhaling gas at noodle shop
Clifford Lo
Aug 13, 2009

Ten people at a Japanese-style noodle shop in Tsim Sha Tsui ended up in hospital yesterday when the ventilation system broke, raising carbon monoxide levels to 20 times the standard level.

Eight of the victims work at the “888” noodle shop in the basement of the Cameron Centre in Cameron Road. There was also one customer – a three-year-old boy – and a man who works in a ground-floor shop.

Last night a 27-year-old man was in serious condition in Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the others had been discharged.

Six fire engines, eight ambulances and a mobile casualty treatment centre were dispatched after the restaurant workers complained of inhaling gas and feeling unwell just before 2pm. Most said they felt dizzy or were having difficulty breathing. They were connected to oxygen masks after being carried into ambulances.

Police cordoned off a section of Cameron Road while firemen wearing breathing apparatus and carrying gas detectors were tracing the source of the gas. Shops at ground level were ordered to close until about 6pm.

Workers from the Drainage Services Department were called in to open the covers of nearby manholes to carry out checks. The Fire Services Department said there was a high concentration of carbon monoxide in the restaurant and an initial investigation showed it had been caused by a faulty ventilation system.

Lo Kam-wing, Tsim Sha Tsui fire station commander, said the level of carbon monoxide at one time was 20 times higher than the standard level.

“Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas. Inhaling the gas makes it difficult to breathe and you feel dizzy,” he said.

A fire officer said the gas level was raised because there was no fresh air being pumped into the restaurant.

Choi Kin, former president of the Medical Association, said the percentage of carbon monoxide in fresh air was low and it would not have a fatal effect even if the level was 20 times higher than normal. However, inhaling large amounts could cause suffocation and brain damage.


#24 Hong Kong Hocus Pocus

August 20, 2009

Psyched up
Jannine Nunan leads a workshop on awakening psychic senses. Feb 15, 11am-4pm, Shakti Healing Circle, 3/F Waga Commercial Centre, 99 Wellington St, Central, HK$1,200 (US$150).

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#23 Hong Kong Hocus Pocus

August 15, 2009

Bliss and make up
Aimie Mok leads a love magic workshop. New Age Shop, 7 Old Bailey St, SoHo, HK$580 (US$72).

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#22 Hong Kong Hocus Pocus

August 10, 2009

Light reading
Sue Jamieson gives a free talk on her new book, Light on Life. Today, 7.15pm-9.30pm, New Age Shop, 7 Old Bailey St, SoHo.

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#21 Hong Kong Hocus Pocus

August 5, 2009

Body time
Mag Fung leads a six-week holistic workshop on creating the body you want. Feb 5, 7pm-9.15pm, Shakti Healing Circle, 3/F Waga Commercial Centre, 99 Wellington St, Central, HK$1,800 (US$225).

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#20 Hong Kong Hocus Pocus

July 31, 2009

Healthy essentials
Sonal Hattangdi-Haridas leads a workshop on homeopathy for the family. Tomorrow, 2pm-5pm, Integrated Medicine Institute, 17/F Kailey Tower, 16 Stanley St, Central, HK$700 (US$88).

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Related Link (superb sketch about the silliness of homeopathy and new age rubbish!)
That Mitchell and Webb Look: Homeopathic A&E