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Two kinds of bottled bean milk of the same brand contaminated with pathogen (with photo)

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) announced today (August 14) that two different kinds of locally produced bottled bean milk samples of the same brand have been contaminated with a pathogen, Bacillus cereus. Although the use-by date of the products concerned have passed, the CFS, in the interests of safety, urges consumers who have bought and still possess the following batches of the products not to consume them:

(1)  Product name: Pre-germinated Organic Soybean Drink with Brown Rice (by HealthWorks)
     Package: 500 millilitres (ml) per bottle
     Use-by date: August 13, 2014
     Place of origin: Hong Kong

(2)  Product name: Organic Black Bean Drink (by HealthWorks)
     Package: 500 ml per bottle
     Use-by date: August 13, 2014
     Place of origin: Hong Kong

     "During a follow-up investigation into a media report, the CFS collected 12 food samples and six environmental samples at retail and manufacturing levels for testing. Test results showed that all environmental samples were satisfactory while four food samples (three soybean drinks with brown rice and one black bean drink) contained Bacillus cereus at levels ranging from 210 000 to 600 000 per ml, exceeding the level set out in the 'Microbiological Guidelines for Food'," a CFS spokesman said.

     According to the "Microbiological Guidelines for Food" issued by the CFS, it is potentially injurious to health or unfit for human consumption if more than 100 000 of Bacillus cereus per gram of food is detected.

     "The manufacturer concerned was issued with a warning and, upon CFS' advice, decided to suspend sale and production of the two affected products in order to review and improve the production process. The manufacturer has also initiated a recall of other batches of the two affected bean milk products. In the interests of safety, the manufacturer will also suspend sale and production of other drinks manufactured by the same production line and will recall respective products. Members of the public may call the company's hotline at 2408 0333 between 9am and 8pm for enquiries," the spokesman said.

     The CFS will take out prosecution action based on the test results.

     Bacillus cereus is commonly found in the environment and can produce different toxins causing two types of food poisoning. Emetic (causing vomiting) intoxication is caused by a heat-stable toxin pre-formed in food. Improper conditions in food processing and/or storage, for instance, leaving the food at room temperature for too long, may give rise to growth of Bacillus cereus as well as production of the aforesaid toxin. Another type of poisoning is diarrhoeal, which is caused by ingestion of a large amount of Bacillus cereus that can produce toxins in the intestine.

     Apart from urging consumers not to consume the affected batches of the bottled bean milk products that are still in their possession, the spokesman reminded consumers to seek medical advice if they feel sick after consuming the products concerned.

     The spokesman said, "The FEHD will continue to closely monitor the situation and take appropriate follow-up action, including stepping up inspection frequency of the food factory concerned, to ensure food safety and safeguard public health."

Ends/Thursday, August 14, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:50


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