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Import and sale of ready-to-eat seafood from UTSUMI brand of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan prohibited with immediate effect

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (March 10) that the import into and sale within Hong Kong of ready-to-eat seafood from UTSUMI brand of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan has been prohibited with immediate effect.

     A spokesman for the CFS said, "The CFS was notified by the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health of two food poisoning cases which involved consumption of raw oysters at a restaurant in Causeway Bay. The stool specimen of one of the affected persons tested positive for norovirus upon laboratory testing. The CFS has conducted follow-up investigation at the restaurant concerned and has collected food and environmental samples for testing. The restaurant has surrendered all the remaining stock of raw oysters of the brand to the CFS for disposal as instructed."

     "The CFS has also followed up with the food supplier of the restaurant concerned.  According to the information provided by the supplier, the affected raw oysters were prepackaged oysters to be eaten in raw state, from UTSUMI brand of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. The product was supplied to the restaurant concerned only and there was no remaining stock. For the sake of prudence, the CFS has immediately banned the import into and sale within Hong Kong of all ready-to-eat seafood of the brand. Based on the information on the package of the affected raw oysters, the food processor of the brand is located in Miyagi Prefecture of Japan."

     The CFS has also contacted major local importers of Japanese ready-to-eat seafood and initial investigations found that no other ready-to-eat seafood of the brand had been imported into Hong Kong.

     The spokesman pointed out that as oysters are fed by filtering a large volume of seawater, pathogens (such as norovirus), chemical contaminants or natural toxins can accumulate in them if they are grown in or harvested from contaminated water. Regardless of the season or the region in which the oysters are harvested, consuming oysters, particularly raw or partially cooked ones, carries an inherent food safety risk. Susceptible groups, such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems or liver diseases, should avoid eating raw oysters.

     The CFS has informed the Japanese authorities of the import ban and requested them to investigate the case. The CFS will also notify the local trade, continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action to safeguard food safety and public health. Investigation is ongoing.

Ends/Thursday, March 10, 2016
Issued at HKT 20:33


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