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Suspected food poisoning case under CHP investigation

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (April 18) investigating a suspected food poisoning outbreak affecting 10 students and a staff member of a secondary school in Tsuen Wan, and reminded the public to maintain personal, food and environmental hygiene to prevent food-borne diseases.

     The affected students, comprising nine males and one female aged from 13 to 18 and a 27-year-old male staff member, developed gastroenteritis symptoms including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea about 0.5 to eight hours after consuming food bought at the school tuck shop on April 15.

     One of the affected students was hospitalised for treatment and has been discharged. All the affected students are in a stable condition. The CHP has also alerted the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to the incident and investigations are ongoing.

     To prevent food-borne diseases, schools and institutions are advised to:

* Choose and monitor food suppliers carefully;
* Hot foods should be kept at above 60 degrees Celsius while cold foods should be kept at 4 degrees Celsius or below;
* Food contact surfaces of equipment and utensils should be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition; and
* Food handlers should observe personal hygiene practices:
- Wear clean uniforms, aprons (or clothes) at the beginning of a work shift;
- Wear a hair restraint (hat or hairnet);
- Keep fingernails short and clean;
- Avoid touching nose, mouth, hair and skin during food preparation;
- Do not smoke in food premises;
- Do not cough or sneeze directly onto food. Wash hands after coughing or sneezing, and after blowing the nose;
- Avoid wearing jewellery while handling and preparing food;
- Cover all wounds or cuts on hands or arms completely with waterproof wound strip. Wear disposable gloves if there is a wound on the hand. Change both gloves and wound strip regularly; and
- Cease work when ill. Food handlers with diarrhoea, gastroenteritis or influenza should refrain from handling food.

     The CHP would also like to remind members of the public to maintain personal, food and environmental hygiene at all times. When dining out:

* Eat thoroughly cooked food;
* Do not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than two hours;
* Patronise only reliable and licensed restaurants;
* Do not patronise illegal food hawkers;
* Drink boiled water;
* Always wash hands before eating and after going to the toilet;
* Avoid eating raw seafood;
* Be a discerning consumer in choosing cold dishes, including sashimi, sushi and raw oysters, at a buffet;
* Use two sets of chopsticks and eating utensils to handle raw and cooked food; and
* Do not try to use salt, vinegar, wine and wasabi to kill bacteria as they are not effective.

Ends/Monday, April 18, 2016
Issued at HKT 18:31


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