75 sick: Blame the consumer, Hong Kong: edition

It’s an institution serving food, but the public is to manage the risk.

blame_canadaThat’s the message from the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (August 4) as it reported its investigation into an outbreak of suspected food poisoning at an institution in Tseung Kwan O, and hence reminded the public to maintain personal, food and environmental hygiene to prevent foodborne diseases.

“Upon notification from the department concerned yesterday afternoon (August 3), our Outbreak Team immediately commenced epidemiological investigations. We have alerted the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to the incident and will work with relevant departments on the investigation,” a spokesman for the CHP said.

The outbreak at this stage involved 75 persons, comprising 74 men and one woman aged from 20 to 33, who developed diarrhoea and abdominal pain about one to 28 hours after dinner on August 2 at the institution. All affected persons did not seek medical attention and required no hospitalisation.
They are now in a stable condition.
To prevent food-borne diseases, institutions are advised to:

Choose and monitor food suppliers carefully; and

Hot foods should be kept at above 60 degrees Celsius while cold foods should be kept at four degrees Celsius or below.
The CHP reminded members of the public to maintain personal, food and environmental hygiene at all times. When dining out:

Eat thoroughly cooked food;

Proper handling, storage and thorough cooking of all food-stuff derived from animal sources, in particular meat, poultry, eggs and their products;

Food handlers should immediately stop handling food if they develop gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea or vomiting;

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.