Blame consumers: Hong Kong case of E. coli O157:H7

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (June 20) investigating a case of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 infection, and hence reminded the public to maintain good personal, food and environmental hygiene against intestinal infections.

blame_canadaBecause in the absence of any details, it’s PR strategy to blame consumers.

The boy, aged 3 with good past health, has developed fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough and runny nose since June 10, and was admitted to a private hospital for management on June 12. He has been in a stable condition all along and was discharged on June 15.

His stool specimen tested positive for STEC O157:H7 upon laboratory testing by the CHP’s Public Health Laboratory Services Branch.

Initial enquiries revealed that the patient had no recent travel history. He had contact with animals during the incubation period, but did not consume unpasteurised milk or raw food.

Salmonella outbreak in Hong Kong: 22 sick

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (April 22) reported an update on its investigations announced on April 19 into suspected food discovery.baypoisoning clusters in connection with a food premises in Discovery Bay.

Subsequent to follow-up investigations, the CHP identified six additional clusters affecting 18 persons, 10 males and eight females aged from 1-to-64. They developed diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and vomiting about five-to-63 hours after consuming food in the premises on April 15 and 16. Among them, 15 sought medical attention, one of whom has been discharged upon hospitalization.

All affected persons are now in stable condition.

Stool specimens of two affected persons tested positive for Salmonella.
This brings the total number of affected persons to 22 so far, comprising 11 males and 11 females.

“We have alerted the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to the incident and investigations are ongoing,” a spokesman for the DH said.

Fancy food ain’t safe food, Hong Kong edition: 6 sick with noro from raw oysters

The Excelsior has taken oysters off the menu due to several diners falling sick at the luxury hotel’s rooftop restaurant last week.

The Centre for Food Safety is investigating after at least six diners who ate imported Penn Cove oysters at the Causeway Bay hotel’s Tott’s and Roof Terrace restaurant on February 23 showed symptoms of food poisoning.

The CFS has also banned the import and sale of raw oysters from the same area.

A spokesman said the CFS had linked a case of food poisoning to the consumption of raw oysters.

“The stool specimen of one of the affected persons tested positive for norovirus upon laboratory testing,” the statement said.

“For the sake of prudence, the CFS has immediately banned the import into and sale within Hong Kong of all raw oysters harvested from the area,” it added.

The ban will affect Tott’s and Roof Terrace and one other restaurant that obtained the same rogue oysters. According to food safety inspectors, no remaining stock from the affected batch was found on their premises.

A spokeswoman for the Excelsior said: “As soon as we knew of these cases, we stopped all the supply of oysters throughout the hotel.

“We will ensure we maintain our due diligence and, keeping the high standards of our food supplies, maintain very high hygiene standards. We’ll continue to select the best possible suppliers.”


Adequate: Results of targeted surveillance on Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat food in Hong Kong

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (March 1) announced the results of a recently completed targeted food surveillance project on Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat food, which showed that all samples passed the test.

listeria4About 450 samples of ready-to-eat food, including various types of high-risk food, such as cheese, frozen confections, cold cuts, fruit, salad, sashimi, smoked salmon and other smoked seafood, were collected from different retailers, including online retailers, for testing for Listeria monocytogenes.

“Listeria monocytogenes may continue to grow slowly at refrigerated temperatures as low as zero degrees Celsius. Refrigerated ready-to-eat food with a long shelf life is a potential high-risk item for

Listeriosis as prolonged storage in a refrigerator (excluding the freezer) may allow Listeria monocytogenes to have sufficient time to grow and thus increase the consumers’ risk of contracting Listeriosis,” a spokesman for the CFS said.

Listeriosis is usually caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Most healthy individuals do not develop symptoms or only have mild symptoms like fever, muscle pain, headache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea when infected.

However, severe complications such as septicemia, meningitis or even death may occur in newborns, the elderly and those with a weaker immune system. Although infected pregnant women may just experience mild symptoms generally, the infection of Listeria monocytogenes may cause miscarriage, infant death, preterm birth, or severe infection in newborns.

Despite the fact that the test results of the samples were all satisfactory, the spokesman reminded the trade and the public not to take the risk lightly. They should always maintain good personal and food hygiene to ensure food safety.

Fish balls: Street food – Hong Kong edition

Chaos broke out overnight in the heart of a busy Hong Kong shopping district during a Lunar New Year celebration as police tried to suppress a protest against authorities’ clampdown on unlicensed street vendors.

Curry Fish BallsDuring the protest, a traffic cop fired three shots to warn off protesters, but the protests only grew more fierce, with many demonstrators hurling bricks and glass bottles at police. Amid the confusion, more than 90 police officers were injured and 54 people ages 15 to 70 were arrested, according to police. Four journalists were also injured, according to local media.

The protests started around midnight, when food hygiene officials from the semiautonomous Chinese territory began to close in on dozens of street food vendors at a major intersection in the bustling Mong Kok district. When the vendors resisted by pushing their carts to block the roadways, police were called in.

The plight of the hawkers, many of whom sell fish balls and other traditional Hong Kong snacks, has emerged as a symbol of local identity in conflict with a flood of big business and cultural influence from mainland China.

Some Internet users called the demonstration the “Fish Ball Revolution,” a nod to the massive pro-democracy protest movement of 2014 that paralyzed huge swaths of the city. Mong Kok was one of the movement’s biggest protest sites.

About the same time the food vendors were making their stand, a pro-local-autonomy group known as Hong Kong Indigenous was holding a political rally nearby.

About two dozen people from Hong Kong Indigenous wearing royal blue hoodies, some armed with long wooden sticks and carrying homemade shields, rushed to the scene of the food vendor clampdown and appealed to the public to face off with police. A standoff ensued.

About 2 a.m. Tuesday, without warning, a traffic police officer fired two shots into the sky, but no one gave ground. Word began circulating that the food hygiene officials had roughed up some vendors.

Several hundred protesters soon amassed; some tossed water bottles and bricks at police. A pile of cardboard boxes was set ablaze.

3 sick from Norovirus in raw oysters in Hong Kong

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (January 12) investigating a food poisoning outbreak and reminds the public to maintain personal, food and environmental hygiene to prevent food-borne diseases.

Raw oystersThe outbreak has affected three women, all aged 27. They developed vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and fever about 24 to 40 hours after having dinner in a food premises in Quarry Bay in the evening of January 3. The trio then sought medical attention and no hospitalization was required.

They have remained in stable condition.

The stool specimen of one of them tested positive for norovirus upon laboratory testing by the hospital. The CHP’s initial enquiries revealed that the trio had consumed raw oysters.

Hong Kong pet owners warned after tests find Salmonella

Hong Kong animal owners are being warned against frozen or raw pet food after salmonella was found in some test samples.

dog_vomitThe Consumer Council said it found salmonella in three of 17 samples during random tests on pet food.

These came from two Australian brands  – Big Dog and Doctor B’s.

Michael Hui, chairman of the council’s publicity and community relations committee, said pets infected with salmonella could suffer diarrhea, vomiting and fever.

Their owners may be vulnerable to infection when exposed to contaminated food containers and feces.

Hong Kong does not regulate pet food quality and it has no mechanism for product recalls.

Samples ‘satisfactory’ for Salmonella in Hong Kong

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has recently completed a targeted food surveillance project on Salmonella in ready-to-eat food. Results showed that all the 800 samples tested were satisfactory.

salmonella.eggs“The Centre collected the samples from over 600 different locations, including retail outlets and food factories, for testing of Salmonella. The samples included cut fruit and salad; meat, poultry and their products (such as ham, shredded chicken, siu-mei and lo-mei); dishes containing eggs (such as pudding and fried rice with eggs); and other food (such as jellyfish and other Chinese cold dishes),” a spokesman for the CFS said today (January 20).

Salmonella is the leading cause of food poisoning locally.
In the past three years, about 40 confirmed food poisoning outbreaks related to Salmonella were recorded by the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health, which accounted for about 27 per cent of all confirmed food poisoning outbreaks recorded. Salmonella is often found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals and will be released through defecation. Hence, Salmonella is more commonly found in food of animal origin, including eggs, meat, poultry and raw milk.

Contamination is another means to disseminate Salmonella into other food such as vegetables and fruits. Furthermore, food may be cross-contaminated during processing or preparation if it is not properly handled.

Food safety is a shared responsibility.
All those involved in the food production chain – from farms and manufacturers to food handlers and consumers – should put in place safety measures. For example, food handlers and consumers are advised to apply the following “Five Keys to Food Safety” when handling and preparing food:
Choose Wisely
* Obtain food and food ingredients from approved and reliable sources; and
* Use fresh and wholesome food ingredients and check the quality of the ingredients upon receipt.
Keep Clean
* Wash hands with soap and water before handling food, after handling raw meat or poultry and after engaging in any activities that may contaminate hands (e.g. going to the toilet; handling rubbish, soiled equipment or utensils and money; and carrying out cleaning duties).
cantaloupe.salmonellaSeparate Raw and Cooked Food
* Use two separate refrigerators for storing raw food and cooked or ready-to-eat food as far as practicable;
* If raw food and cooked or ready-to-eat food have to be stored in the same refrigerator, store food in containers with lids to avoid contact between raw food and ready-to-eat or cooked food.
Raw food should be stored below ready-to-eat or cooked food in the refrigerator to prevent juices of raw food from dripping onto ready-to-eat or cooked food; and
* Use separate utensils to handle raw food and cooked or ready-to-eat food.
Cook Thoroughly
* If possible, use a food thermometer to check whether the core temperature of food reaches at least 75 degrees Celsius.
Safe Temperature
* Keep cold food at or below 4 degrees Celsius and hot food above 60 degrees Celsius; and
* Never leave cooked food at room temperature for more than two hours.

Raw remains risky: Hong Kong investigating raw oyster outbreaks

While waiting in line on Dec. 24 for our Xmas seafood, our local fishmonger was offering raw oysters.

SUN0705N-Oyster7I said, no thanks.

The Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (December 25) reminded the public to pay attention to food safety to prevent food-related illness during holidays and seasonal celebrations. Susceptible groups, such as the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems or liver diseases, should avoid eating high risk food like raw oysters.

A CFS spokesman said, “The CFS received referrals from the Centre for Health Protection on two suspected food poisoning clusters recently. Raw oysters were among the suspected food items in both outbreaks.

Upon CFS’ request, sale of raw oyster was suspended on both food premises. The CFS is also tracing the source and distribution of the raw oysters in question.”

Reports of Listeria more than double in Hong Kong

The annual number of reports of a deadly disease resulting from foodborne bacteria have more than doubled from 2011 to last year as people eat more pre-packaged food, doctors at the Centre for Food Safety said on Wednesday. 

listeria4A total of 26 cases of listeriosis, a serious bacterial infection that has a mortality rate of about 20 per cent, were reported last year and in 2012. In the previous three years, the annual average number of reported cases was 11.

The disease is caused by Listeria monocytogenes, a type of bacteria which thrives on pre-prepared food that is refrigerated for more than a week. 

Sixteen cases have already been reported in the first seven months of this year. The disease can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, blood and brain infections among high-risk people such as pregnant women, newborns and elderly people.

Some of the cases reported this year had resulted in miscarriages, the centre said.