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Satisfactory test results on lunch boxes and reheatable prepackaged food

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) today (June 28) released test results from two targeted food surveillance projects on the microbiological quality of lunch boxes and refrigerated prepackaged meals that require reheating before consumption. All 500 samples were satisfactory.

     "In April and May, the CFS collected 300 samples of lunch boxes and 200 samples of prepackaged meals from various food factories, convenience stores and supermarkets for testing. Prepackaged meals included meal boxes (such as rice and spaghetti dishes), snacks (like chicken wings and legs and sausages), dim sum and pizzas," a spokesman for the CFS said.

     The pathogens tested for included Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus.

     Although the results of the two targeted surveillance projects were satisfactory, the hot weather is conducive to the growth of pathogens in food. The spokesman reminded the operators of schools and institutions to order lunch boxes from premises with a valid food factory licence issued by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. They should also avoid ordering high-risk food items (e.g. sashimi or unthoroughly washed fresh vegetables and fruits) for young children, elders or other people with lower immunity.

     Lunch boxes should be kept in insulated containers, with hot food maintained above 60 degrees Celsius and chilled food at 4 degrees Celsius or below, until they are consumed. The storage time should be shortened as far as practicable. In addition, further processing of food after delivery of lunch boxes to the place of consumption should be avoided. Lunch boxes taken out of insulated containers should be consumed as soon as possible.

     "Members of the public should buy food from reliable and hygienic food premises. Consume the contents of lunch boxes as soon as possible after purchase. For prepackaged meals that require reheating before consumption, follow the instructions on the package to reheat the food thoroughly and consume it soon after reheating. Do not choose those without intact packaging or that are not properly stored in the refrigerator," he said.

     He also reminded the trade to follow the "Five Keys to Food Safety" in food production, namely to choose safe raw materials; keep hands and utensils clean; separate raw and cooked food; cook thoroughly; and keep food at a safe temperature.

Ends/Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:31


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