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Latest situation of follow-up on infant formula product suspected to be affected by Clostridium botulinum

     Various government departments and agencies including the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the Department of Health (DH) and the Hospital Authority (HA) are continuing to follow up on the case of infant formula products suspected to be affected by Clostridium botulinum. No new reports of food products being affected were received today (August 8).

     A spokesman for the Government said that currently the New Zealand dairy products targeting Hong Kong infants under 1 year old are mainly baby and infant formulae. The CFS has started sampling of infant formulae manufactured in New Zealand for infants under 1 year old from local outlets to test if they have been affected by Clostridium botulinum. Depending on the developments, the CFS would consider sampling other food products suspected of contamination from the local market for testing. The CFS will continue to closely liaise and co-operate with the New Zealand authority and the State General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, as well as major local food suppliers, to keep an eye on the developments of the matters. No affected products have been reported to have entered Hong Kong so far.

     On today's news reports about the safety issue of parallel imports, the spokesman stressed, "All foods in Hong Kong, no matter where they are manufactured or how they are sold to consumers, are subject to one and the same safety control regime. Section 54 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132) provides that all food intended for human consumption for sale in Hong Kong must be fit for human consumption. In addition, the food must also comply with regulations concerning food safety and food standards made under the above Ordinance. An offender may be liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months."

     The hotlines set up by the CFS and the DH for the incident have operated smoothly so far. As at 3pm today, the CFS' hotline 3978 0600 had received 1,053 enquiries, whilst the DH's hotline 2125 1111 had received 355 enquiries. Among the enquiries received by the DH's hotline so far none were related to suspected Botulism cases. From 3pm yesterday (August 7) up to 3pm today, there were no cases of children being symptomatic.

     The HA has reminded front-line staff of public hospitals that if children who have consumed the concerned batches of infant formula seek medical consultation and are presented with relevant symptoms, staff should follow the current regime to notify the Centre for Health Protection to conduct tests and refer to paediatrics for follow-up and appropriate treatment. No public hospital has received notifiable cases so far.

     The CFS will continue to follow up on the latest situation of the supplier's precautionary recall exercise of Cow & Gate Happy Kid 3 (growing up formula for 1 to 3 years old) (batches 3178 and 3179) available in the local market.

Ends/Thursday, August 8, 2013
Issued at HKT 21:37


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