Muslim domestic workers in Hong Kong have expressed alarm following a TV report this week which revealed that beef balls sold by some markets and grocery stores are made from pork. Beef ball is a common ingredient found in many cheap dishes such as noodle soups. In the report aired by Cable TV on Monday, several samples tested at a university were found to have no beef but contained pork or a mix of pork and chicken instead. The discovery prompted religious groups to advise all Muslims in Hong Kong, thought to number about 250,000, to only eat halal food. However, many Muslim domestic workers say that is easier said than done. There are at least 150,000 Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong, most of which have to rely on food given to them by their employers since halal food is too expensive to buy. Doris Law, a Cable TV reporter who worked on the news report, said the manufacturers making the balls were engaged in a criminal act. She said she employs an Indonesian domestic helper and that by passing off pork as beef showed “disrespect to her faith as she is a devout Muslim.” Sringatin, the head of the Indonesian Migrant Workers' Union in Hong Kong, called for stricter government guidelines on food production, saying that it is unacceptable that the meat balls were not properly labeled. "Out of respect for the Muslim community and those who cannot eat pork, the manufacturers should list the ingredients on the packaging,” the Standard newspaper quoted her as saying. Ko Wing-man, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health has vowed to conduct a thorough investigation. His bureau along with the Customs Department will also take action if vendors are found to be in breach of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance. Violators could face fines of up to HK$10,000 (US$1,200) and or three months in jail.
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