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Test results on microbiological quality of Chinese cold dishes released

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (April 26) announced the test results of a targeted food surveillance on the microbiological quality of Chinese cold dishes. Among the 200 samples collected, three samples were found to be unsatisfactory. The overall satisfactory rate was 98.5 per cent.

     "The CFS collected various types of Chinese cold dishes in February and March this year from different locations including food premises, food factories, supermarkets and convenience stores for testing pathogens. The tests covered Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus. A sample of 'mala' beef and a sample of spicy shredded chicken were found to contain Salmonella, while another sample of vegetarian fine spiced duck was detected to contain Bacillus cereus," a CFS spokesman said.

     "Consuming food with an excessive amount of Salmonella or number of Bacillus cereus exceeding the Microbiological Guidelines for Ready-to-eat Food's limit may cause gastrointestinal upsets such as vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea," he said.

     Regarding the unsatisfactory samples, the CFS has taken follow-up action including tracing sources of the food items in question, asking the food premises concerned to stop selling them, disposal of the affected food items and issuing warning letters. Follow-up samples were subsequently taken for testing with satisfactory results.

     Manual handling is usually involved in the preparation of Chinese cold dishes, which may be prepared in advance and stored for a period of time before serving. Moreover, the dishes are often not reheated before consumption. These factors might affect the hygienic quality of the dishes, the spokesman said.

     He advised the food trade to estimate the demand for various dishes prudently and draw up a work schedule in advance to avoid preparing food in excess or too early. They should purchase food ingredients from reliable suppliers, keep ready-to-eat dishes in covered containers and away from raw food and in the upper compartment if stored in the same refrigerator, with a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius or below, and use separate utensils to handle raw food and cooked food or ready-to-eat food.

     He also reminded food handlers to follow good personal hygiene practice, including washing hands thoroughly with running water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food, during food preparation and after going to the toilet, wearing clean and light-coloured outer clothing or protective overalls, refraining from smoking and eating during preparation, and covering open wounds with bright-coloured waterproof bandages or gloves.

     When suffering or suspected to be suffering from an infectious disease or presenting with symptoms of flu, diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, sore throat and abdominal pain, they should refrain from handling food, he noted.

     For more information about the safe preparation of Chinese cold dishes, the trade can browse the guidelines prepared by the CFS:

     "Consumers are urged to patronise hygienic and reliable licensed food premises. They should consume purchased cold dishes as soon as possible or store the dishes in a refrigerator at or below 4 degrees Celsius," the spokesman added.

Ends/Friday, April 26, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:00


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