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Most of the margarine on sale in Hong Kong contains harmful substances that can cause cancer and harm the kidneys and male reproductive systems.

The Consumer Council said on Monday that 85% or 18 of the margarine brands contained a harmful substance called genotoxic carcinogen glycidol, which the European authorities have put on a watchlist.

Meanwhile, 16 samples had the contaminant 3-MCPD, which the Council said may be harmful to people’s kidneys and male reproductive systems, Oriental Daily reported.

Chief executive of the Consumer Council Gilly Wong said although there are no international standards set for intake of the chemical, European authorities had advised people to keep it “as low as reasonably practicable or achievable”.

The 30 items tested included nine butters, 16 margarines and fat spreads, 4 butter and vegetable oils blended fat spreads, and 1 shortening.

The Consumer Council also found half of the tested samples had inaccurate nutrition labels.

Lurpak’s “slightly salted organic spreadable butter” had ten times more sodium than what it suggested on its label.

Four other brands which claimed to have no trans-fatty acid actually had them to a level that exceeded the accepted tolerance limit of 0.3mg/100g.

Council member Wong Kam-fai said that flawed information was an infringement of consumer rights and urged the authorities to devise legislation so that manufacturers are forced to disclose the contents of products in detail on food labels.

The watchdog said cases of inaccurate labeling were passed to the Centre for Food Safety for further action, Headline Daily reported.

It also warned producers that it is a criminal offense to put false or misleading labels on food products.

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