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Packaging sample of imported frozen cow offal tested positive for COVID-19 virus
     A spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said today (July 8) that the CFS received testing reports from the Department of Health that one packaging sample of imported frozen cow offal was found to be positive for the COVID-19 virus during precautionary testing.
     The CFS earlier collected samples for testing from a batch of around 330 bags of frozen cow offal (total of around 13 tonnes) imported from Pakistan via sea. Test results showed one outer packaging sample was positive for the virus. This batch of cow offal has been stored inside a warehouse in Tsing Yi after it was imported and has not entered the market.

     Upon learning of the test results, the CFS inspected the warehouse concerned and requested the operators to conduct thorough cleaning and disinfection. The CFS has ordered the importer concerned to dispose of all cow offal of the same batch. In addition, the CFS will step up sampling of similar products for testing.

     To prevent the importing of the COVID-19 virus through imported frozen foods, the CFS has stepped up precautionary testing measures since mid-2020, including enhanced testing of various types of frozen foods and their packaging imported from different countries/regions, which involves taking samples at the Airport Food Inspection Offices and cold stores of importers. Up to now, over 37 000 samples of food and their packaging have been collected for testing for the virus. Apart from the above-mentioned sample, only the samples listed below were found to be positive. The CFS will continue the sampling of imported frozen foods and their packaging for testing.
Date of announcement Sample
August 2021 Pomfret fish and packaging
November 2021 Cuttlefish slice and packaging
February 2022 Packaging of beef
February 2022 Packaging of pork skin
April 2022 Packaging of ox offal
April 2022 Packaging of chicken leg
July 2022 Mango

     The COVID-19 virus is predominantly transmitted through droplets and cannot multiply in food or food packaging. According to current scientific knowledge, the World Health Organization and food safety assessment authorities in overseas countries consider that it is unlikely that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted to humans via food consumption. Nevertheless, members of the public should always observe personal, food and environmental hygiene. The CFS reminds the public to pay attention to the following:

* Always keep hands clean, particularly before touching the mouth, nose or eyes;
* Rub hands with liquid soap for at least 20 seconds when washing before and after handling chilled and frozen food and its packaging, if any; after going to the toilet; and before eating;
* Handle raw and cooked food separately, and pay special attention when handling raw meat and offal, to avoid cross-contamination of food; and
* Cook food thoroughly and avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products.
Ends/Friday, July 8, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:00
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