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Tips on eating moon cakes safely

    The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has recently collected 49 moon cake samples for chemical and microbiological tests under its Food Surveillance Programme. The test results are satisfactory.

     Despite satisfactory results, the FEHD today (September 4) reminded the public to be careful when buying moon cakes.
     People should buy moon cakes only from reputable retail outlets to ensure the quality of the product, an FEHD spokesman said.

     Consumers are offered a great variety of moon cakes, including fruit, bird's nest, abalone, dried scallop, snowy and ice-cream moon cakes.
     Snowy moon cakes, which are becoming increasingly popular, are quite different from conventional Guangdong moon cakes.

     "Unlike conventional moon cakes, which are put in a mould and then baked at about 300 degrees Celsius for 15 to 25 minutes, the ingredients of snowy moon cakes have already been cooked before being put in moulds, and further baking is not required. Therefore, snowy moon cakes are also subject to more stringent temperature control during transportation and storage," he said.

     "Baking can eliminate all bacteria present in conventional moon cakes. In the absence of such a process, snowy moon cakes tend to pose a higher microbiological risk.
"Consumers can, however, enjoy moon cakes safely by observing proper food hygiene when buying and storing the cakes."

     Here are some safety tips for moon cake-lovers:

General tips
* Buy moon cakes from reputable retail outlets;
* Check the expiry dates and eat within the recommended period;
* Check if moon cakes are properly packaged. Individually packed moon cakes can offer additional protection;
* Wash hands before handling and eating moon cakes.

For conventional moon cakes
* Store moon cakes in the refrigerator if they are not eaten immediately;
* Cover and wrap moon cakes properly to prevent cross-contamination during storage.

For snowy and ice-cream moon cakes
* Make sure snowy moon cakes are refrigerated at the time of purchase. For ice-cream moon cakes, the temperature of the freezer should be kept at -18 degrees Celsius or below;
* After purchase, take snowy or ice-cream moon cakes home immediately and keep them in the refrigerator;
* Never leave snowy or ice-cream moon cakes in the boot of the car, as this could lead to speedy proliferation of micro-organisms in the danger zone of four to 60 degrees Celsius.

When eating snowy and ice-cream moon cakes outdoors
* Use a cooler with ice when carrying snowy or ice-cream moon cakes outdoors;
* Take moon cakes out of the cooler only when it is time to serve them;
* Discard snowy and ice-cream moon cakes that have been kept at room temperature for more than two hours;
* Bring along wet towels to clean hands if hand-washing facilities are not available nearby.

     The public should eat moon cakes moderately as most of them are rich in sugar and fat. Patients with chronic illnesses should consult dieticians before eating moon cakes.

Ends/Sunday, September 4, 2005
Issued at HKT 15:00


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