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Satisfactory results for tests on sashimi and sushi

     All 200 samples of sashimi and sushi collected recently by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) in a thematic food surveillance project to assess their safety were found satisfactory.

     A CFS spokesman said during announcement of the surveillance results today (May 29) that the CFS has concern over the safety of sashimi and sushi in view of a number of food poisoning cases that could have been related to the food items last year.

     "As the making of sashimi and sushi involves uncooked food as well as a great deal of manual handling, food safety would be compromised by faults from the choice of ingredients to their production and storage," the spokesman said.

     The CFS collected samples of a wide range of sashimi and sushi from different restaurants, supermarkets and food factories in March and April for microbiological and chemical tests. The samples included fish, bivalves, shrimps and crabs, octopus and squid, and sea urchins as well as sushi containing no aquatic products, he said.

     Microbiological tests included tests for common pathogens such as Bacillus cereus, Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Chemical tests covered common hazards such as metallic contamination, veterinary drug residues and toxins.

     Although all samples passed the tests, the spokesman reminded the trade to comply with hygienic practices, which include the maintenance of good personal hygiene among food handlers, separation of the processing and storage of raw and ready-to-eat food to prevent cross contamination, and the keeping of sashimi and sushi at safe temperatures (i.e. at 4 degrees Celsius or below).

     In addition, the trade should source wholesome and good quality raw materials from reliable suppliers for preparation of sashimi and sushi.  Food that is intended for consumption after cooking should not be provided for consumption in its raw state. All imported food materials should be accompanied by health certificates issued by the relevant authorities of the exporting countries which are acceptable to the FEHD. The food trade should also maintain a good recording system in accordance with the Food Safety Ordinance to allow source tracing if needed.

     He also advised consumers to check whether the food premises have a FEHD licence and the endorsement for sale of sashimi and sushi, and avoid buying sashimi or sushi which has been improperly stored, such as those that are not well-covered or kept under ambient temperature for a prolonged period. Moreover, they should consume take-away sashimi or sushi soon after purchase, or keep them at 4 degrees Celsius or below to minimise risk. People with weakened immunity, the elderly, pregnant women and young children are at higher risk of food-borne illness. They should not eat raw or partially cooked food, he added.

Ends/Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:31


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