Category Archives: CFS

Hong Kong – CFS urges public not to consume a batch of prepackaged French smoked herring fillets suspected to be contaminated with Listeria moncytogenes

CFS

Issue Date 26.8.2022
Source of Information Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed of the European Commission
Food Product Prepackaged French smoked herring fillets
Product Name and Description Product name: FILET HARENG DOUX SV 1KG
Brand: J.C DAVID
Place of origin: France
Importer: Classic Fine Foods (Hong Kong) Limited
Net weight: 1 kilogram
Best-before date: August 26, 2022
Reason For Issuing Alert
  • The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) received a notification from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed of the European Commission that the above-mentioned batch of product might have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and was being recalled.
  • Listeria monocytogenes can be easily destroyed by cooking but can survive and multiply at refrigerator temperature. 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 septicaemia, 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.
Action Taken by the Centre for Food Safety
  • Upon learning of the incident, the CFS immediately contacted the local importer for follow-up. A preliminary investigation found that the above-mentioned importer had imported into Hong Kong the affected batch of the product concerned.
  • The importer concerned has stopped sales, has removed the affected product from shelves and has initiated a recall according to the CFS’s instructions.
  • The CFS has alerted the trade to the incident, and will continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action. An investigation is ongoing.
Advice to the Trade
  • Stop using or selling the product concerned immediately if they possess it.
Advice to Consumers
  • Not to consume the affected batch of the product if they have bought any.
Further Information The CFS press

Enquiries about the recall can be made to the importer’s hotline at 2612 2066 during office hours.

Photos for reference only. Source of the photos: https://rappel.conso.gouv.fr/fiche-rappel/7968/Interne

Hong Kong – Not to consume smoked salmon products with dill possibly contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

CFS

Issue Date 5.7.2022
Source of Information The Centre for Food Safety – Routine Food Surveillance Programme
Food Product Prepackaged chilled smoked salmon
Product Name and Description Product name: Smoked Norwegian Salmon Slices with Dill

Place of origin: Hong Kong

Net weight: 100 grams per pack
Use-by date: All batches on or after June 25, 2022
Distributor: Polyfood Service Co. Ltd

*Updated on 5 July 2022

All brands and packing sizes (namely 100g and 500g) of the affected batches of smoked salmon products with dill.

Reason For Issuing Alert
  • The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) collected the above-mentioned smoked salmon sample from an online shop for testing under its routine Food Surveillance Programme. The test result showed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in 25 grams of the sample, exceeding the standard of the Microbiological Guidelines for Food which states that Listeria monocytogenes should not be detected in 25 grams of food.

*Updated on 5 July 2022

  • The CFS earlier collected a smoked salmon sample produced by distributor Polyfood Food Service Co. Ltd for testing under its routine Food Surveillance Programme. The test result showed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in 25 grams of the sample, exceeding the standard of the Microbiological Guidelines for Food which states that Listeria monocytogenes should not be detected in 25 grams of food.
  • Listeria monocytogenes can be easily destroyed by cooking but can survive and multiply at refrigerator temperature. 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 septicaemia, 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
Action Taken by the Centre for Food Safety
  • The CFS has informed the manufacturer concerned of the test result and instructed it to stop sale and remove from shelves the affected product, and initiate a recall.
  • The CFS visited the concerned production facilities immediately for investigation and instructed the management to perform cleansing and disinfection.
  • The CFS will alert the trade to the incident, and will continue to follow up and take appropriate action

*Updated on 5 July 2022

  •  Upon receiving the test result on June 30, the CFS immediately visited the food factory concerned for investigation, collected food and environmental samples for testing, instructed the manufacturer to recall the affected products, and gave health advice to the operators and staff of the food factory concerned. The CFS also issued a press release to remind the trade and the public on the same day. The relevant production line of the factory has been suspended since June 30 evening, while thorough cleansing and disinfection in the factory has been conducted.
  • The CFS has been actively following up on the case. The distributor, in accordance with the CFS’s instruction, has stopped the sale and removed from shelves the affected products, and has mounted a recall of all brands and packing sizes (namely 100g and 500g) of the affected batches of smoked salmon products with dill.
  • The CFS inspected the factory on July 5 again after its completion of a thorough cleansing and disinfection, and collected environmental samples for testing.
  • The CFS has also inspected local retail outlets, and no affected products have been found available for sale so far.
Advice to the Trade
  • Stop using or selling the product concerned immediately if they possess it.
Advice to Consumers
  • Not to consume the affected product if they have bought any.
Further Information The CFS press release (30 June 2022)

The CFS press release (5 July 2022)

  • Members of the public may call the hotlines at 2898 9962 or 6366 0067 during office hours.
  • Members of the public may contact the sellers of the concerned products to enquire if they are not sure whether the products they possessed were supplied by the distributor concerned.

Hong Kong – CFS reminds public to pay more attention to food safety risks in summer

CFS

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) today (July 20) released the findings of its Summer Food Surveillance Programme 2021. The results of over 2 000 food samples tested were satisfactory except for three samples that had been announced earlier. The overall satisfactory rate was 99.85 per cent. A CFS spokesman reminded members of the public to remain vigilant and pay more attention to food safety and environmental hygiene as the hot and humid climate of summer in Hong Kong facilitates the multiplication of bacteria.

The spokesman said, “The CFS collected 2,002 samples from market stalls, restaurants, food factories, fresh provision shops, online vendors, hawkers and premises in connection with intelligence, etc for tests.”

The samples comprised 180 samples of dairy products and frozen confections, 138 samples of cut fruit and salads, 97 samples of desserts and drinks, 54 samples of sandwiches, 251 samples of cooked meat products and 551 samples of other ready to eat foods. The CFS was notified of multiple food poisoning cases which involved consumption of raw oysters this summer and therefore enhanced the testing of aquatic products. A total of 731 samples of aquatic products such as sushi and sashimi, fish, crustaceans (such as shrimp and scampi), molluscs and other edible aquatic animals (such as oysters and venus clams) were collected for tests.

The spokesman said that 1,800 food samples were collected for microbiological tests, 132 samples for tests of metallic contaminants and 70 samples for tests of veterinary drug residues. Samples tested for microbiological tests and metallic contaminants were all satisfactory. As for the tests of veterinary drug residues, except for three samples (one for venus clam, one for clam and one for common oriental clam) in which chloramphenicol were found, the remaining samples were all satisfactory. The overall satisfactory rate was 99.85 per cent.

The CFS has announced the test results of the unsatisfactory samples and conducted follow-up actions, including instructing the concerned vendors to stop sales and remove the products from the shelves, tracing the source and informing the authority of the origin.

The spokesman pointed out that although unsatisfactory samples for microbiological tests were not found in the Summer Food Surveillance Programme 2021, bacteria grow faster in warmer environments in summer, and that the hot weather increases the risk of food poisoning caused by bacteria.

The spokesman reminded members of the public in particular that raw or undercooked foods are high-risk foods as there is not any, or inadequate, heat treatment to eliminate the microorganisms present that can pose risks to human health. Raw or undercooked foods are also associated with the risk of contracting antimicrobial resistance (AMR) microorganisms. Although these AMR microorganisms may not cause illnesses, they may transfer their antibiotic resistance genes to other bacteria inside the human body, therefore affecting the effectiveness of the future use of antibiotics when needed. Susceptible populations such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immunity (i.e. people with chronic diseases or those on antibiotics treatment, antacid and long-term steroids or drugs given to prevent transplant rejection, etc) are of higher risk of being infected or having complications if they consume raw or undercooked foods due to their health status. They should therefore avoid eating raw and undercooked foods.

Members of the public should pay attention to food safety, especially in summer, and observe the following Five Keys to Food Safety in order to reduce the risk of foodborne diseases:

  • choose (choose safe raw materials);
  • clean (keep hands and utensils clean);
  • separate (separate raw and cooked food);
  • cook (cook thoroughly); and
  • safe temperature (keep food at a safe temperature).

Members of the public are also reminded to dine out in licensed and hygienic restaurants. Food premises selling sushi and sashimi or other high risk food require a special permit. The public should patronise only those with relevant licences or permits issued by the FEHD.

Ends/Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Hong Kong – Trade instructed to suspend importing and selling of ready to eat raw oysters harvested in Samish Bay in US – Vibrio parahaemolyticus

CFS

Vibrio

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (July 23) instructed the trade to suspend the import of ready to eat raw oysters harvested in Samish Bay of the United States (US). The trade should also stop using or selling the product concerned immediately should they possess it.

A spokesman for the CFS said, “The CFS noticed that the Washington State Department of Health reported that ready to eat raw oysters harvested in Samish Bay of the US, which were suspected to be contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus, were under recall. Upon learning of the incident, the CFS immediately contacted local major importers for follow-up. A preliminary investigation found that the importer, Asia-Taylor (A&T) Finefoods Limited, had imported some of the affected product which was on sale in its retail outlet. For the sake of prudence, the CFS has immediately instructed the trade to suspend the import into and sale within Hong Kong of all ready to eat raw oysters harvested in the abovementioned area in the US, and instructed the importer to stop sale and remove from shelves the affected product.”

The CFS is also tracing the distribution of the product concerned. The trade should also stop using or selling the product concerned immediately should they possess it.

The spokesman pointed out that as oysters feed by filtering a large volume of seawater, pathogens (such as Vibrio parahaemolyticus) can accumulate in them if they are grown in or harvested from contaminated water. Raw or partially cooked oysters are high risk foods. Susceptible groups, such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems or liver diseases, should avoid eating them.

The CFS will inform the US authorities and will also notify the local trade. It will continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action to safeguard food safety and public health. An investigation is ongoing.

Hong Kong – Not to consume a kind of French raw milk goat’s cheese suspected to be contaminated with Salmonella

CFS

Food Alerts / Allergy Alerts

Not to consume a kind of French raw milk goat’s cheese suspected to be contaminated with salmonella

Issue Date 7.5.2021
Source of Information Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) of the European Commission
Food Product A kind of raw milk goat’s cheese imported from France
Product Name and Description Product name: Picodon Aop
Brand: Janier
Batch numbers: 12260610, 13260610, 14260610, 15260610, 16260610
Place of origin: France
Importer: Le Quinze Vins Limited
Reason For Issuing Alert
  • The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) received a notification from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) of the European Commission that the above-mentioned raw milk goat’s cheese sample was found by the French manufacturer to have been contaminated with salmonella. The manufacturer concerned has initiated a recall locally.
  • According to the information provided by the RASFF, some of the affected products have been imported into Hong Kong.
Action Taken by the Centre for Food Safety
  • Upon learning of the incident, the CFS immediately contacted the local importer concerned for follow-up.
  • A preliminary investigation found that the above-mentioned importer had imported the above batches of the product, and some of them were sold. Upon notification by the exporter concerned earlier, the importer has already stopped sale of the affected product, initiated a recall and destroyed the remaining product.
  • The CFS has alerted the trade to the incident, will continue to follow up and take appropriate action.
Advice to the Trade Stop using or selling the product concerned immediately if they possess it.
Advice to Consumers Not to consume the affected batches of the product if they have bought any.
Further Information The CFS press release

Members of the public may call the importer’s hotline at 2329 8028 during office hours for enquiries about the recall.

Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department
2021-5-7

Hong Kong – Bacillus cereus in Soybean Milk

CFS

Recently, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) collected a soybean milk sample from a local food shop when following up on a food complaint. The sample was later found containing a bacterium known as Bacillus cereus (B. cereus) in an amount that exceeded the limit in the CFS’ Microbiological Guidelines for Food and was consided unsatisfactory. Soybean milk produced by local retail shops, such as soybean product shops and congee shops, usually has a short shelf life and requires stringent temperature control to maintain its safety. In this article, we will look into how the bacterium finds its way to survive in soybean milk production and how to prevent it.

Figure 1 Highlights of processes requiring time and temperature control during production of soybean milk

Bacillus cereus Surviving Heat Treatment

B. cereus is a spore-forming bacterium and is ubiquitous in the environment. It is naturally present in soils, plants, agricultural products, etc. Hence, soybeans used in the production of soybean milk (see Figure 1) may contain B. cereus.

While cooking is effective to kill vegetative cells of B. cereus, its spores are heat-resistant and can only be eliminated by high temperature treatment, e.g. 121°C for 3 minutes. In this regard, the cooking temperature of soybean milk production at retail shops is not sufficient to kill the spores. Instead, the heat of cooking can not only induce the spores to germinate and become vegetative cells, but also create a favourable environment for the cells to grow by eliminating other microorganisms competing for growth. As a result, if the soybean milk is left under ambient condition for a prolonged period of time after cooking, vegetative cells can proliferate into a large number.

The vegetative cells can then produce a heat-resistant emetic (i.e. causes vomiting) toxin.  Even if contaminated soybean milk is reheated subsequently, it can still cause food poisoning that is characterised by causing the victim to vomit shortly after consumption.

Prevention by Time and Temperature Control

Despite the tenacious nature of B. cereus, soybean milk can still be safely produced. To prevent the microbiological hazard, certain production processes require time and temperature control (see Figure 1). First, the soybean slurry from grinding process has to be cooked thoroughly to kill B. cereus vegetative cells and other bacteria.  The heat treatment can also denature soybean enzymes that affect digestion of consumers.

After cooking, it is important to minimise the duration of leaving cooked products within the temperature danger zone, i.e. between 4°C and 60°C, in order to prevent the growth of vegetative cells of B. cereus formed from surviving spores. Cooked soybean slurry is strained through cheese cloth for soluble extract, i.e. soybean milk.  After straining, freshly made soybean milk can be held at above 60°C for hot serving.  As for cold soybean milk, it has to be cooled as quickly as possible, i.e. cooling to 20°C within two hours, and then to 4°C within the next four hours or less. Cooled soybean milk can then be stored at or below 4°C for cold serving. At certain food service businesses, soybean milk in cold holding may be reheated for serving. In that case, it has to be reheated with temperature reaching at least 75°C.

Last but not least, the production environment and equipment have to be kept hygienic to reduce microbiological contamination.  In particular, the equipment used after cooking processes, such as cheese cloth, container and dispenser, has to be cleaned after each use to minimise the building up of B. cereus which may contaminate cooked soybean milk of the next batch.

Key Points to Note

  1. Soybeans can be naturally contaminated with B. cereus. Normal cooking can kill vegetative cells of B. cereus, but not the spores and toxin of it.
  2. If cooked soybean milk is left at ambient temperature for too long, vegetative cells of B. cereus formed from surviving spores can produce toxin.
  3. It is important to minimise the duration of leaving soybean milk at a temperature range between 4°C and 60°C after cooking which favours the growth of B. cereus vegetative cells and toxin production.

Advice to the Trade

  • Avoid over-production as soybean milk has a short shelf life.
  • Speed up the cooling process by, for example, dividing soybean milk into small portions or using water bath or ice bath to cool bottled soybean milk.
  • Minimise the storage time of soybean milk, preferably clearing the stock within one day after production.

Advice to the Public

  • Consume soybean milk produced at retail shops as soon as possible.
  • Refrigerate the soybean milk at 4°C or below if it is not to be consumed immediately.

Hong Kong – Not to consume a kind of cheese from Italy with possible Shiga toxin-producing E. coli contamination

CFS

Issue Date 2.11.2020
Source of Information Centre for Food Safety
Food Product Cheese
Product Name and Description Product name: FONTINA D.O.P.

Place of origin: Italy

Producer: COOPERATIVA PRODUTTORI LATTE E FONTINA SOC. COOP.A.R.L.

Importer: Bravo Fine Foods Limitedand New Food Project Limited

Lot: LOTTO C261

Best-before date: November 19, 2020

Reason For Issuing Alert
  • The CFS received a notification from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) of the European Commission that the above-mentioned product might have been contaminated with Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and is being recalled.
  • Preliminary investigation found that two local importers, Bravo Fine Foods Limited and New Food Project Limited, had imported some of the affected product into Hong Kong.
  • People will contract STEC-causing gastro-intestinal disease through consumption of contaminated water or undercooked and contaminated foods. Intestinal bleeding and serious complications such as hemolytic uraemic syndrome may also develop in some people.
Action Taken by the Centre for Food Safety
  • The CFS immediately contacted local major importers and retailers for follow-up.
  • The importers have initiated a recall according to the CFS’ instructions.
Advice to the Trade
  • The trade should stop using or selling the product concerned immediately if they possess it.
Advice to Consumers
  • Consumers should not consume the affected batches of the product if they have bought any.
  • Enquiries about the recall can be made to the hotlines of Bravo Fine Foods Limited and New Food Project Limited at 3528 0348 and 5248 8527 respectively during office hours.
Further Information The CFS press release

Hong Kong – Test results of seasonal food surveillance project on mooncakes (first phase) all satisfactory

CFS

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) today (September 2) announced the results of a seasonal food surveillance project on mooncakes (first phase). The results of 137 samples tested were all satisfactory.

A spokesman for the CFS said that samples covering traditional, snowy, ice-cream and other types of mooncakes had been collected from various retailers (including online retailers) and food factories for chemical and microbiological tests and nutrition content analysis.

The chemical tests covered colouring matters, preservatives, aflatoxins and metallic contaminants. Microbiological tests covered different pathogens. For nutrition content analysis, the contents of sodium and total fat of the samples were tested to see if they were consistent with the declared values on the nutrition labels.

Hong Kong – CFS announces food safety report for July

CFS

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (August 31) released the findings of its food safety report for last month. The results of about 15,200 food samples tested were satisfactory except for seven samples that were announced earlier. The overall satisfactory rate was 99.9 per cent.

A CFS spokesman said about 1,400 food samples were collected for microbiological tests, some 3,600 samples were taken for chemical tests and the remaining 10,200 (including about 9,800 taken from food imported from Japan) were collected to test radiation levels.

The microbiological tests covered pathogens and hygiene indicators, while the chemical tests included pesticides, preservatives, metallic contaminants, colouring matters, veterinary drug residues and others.

The samples comprised about 3,600 samples of vegetables and fruit and their products; about 800 samples of cereals, grains and their products; about 700 samples of meat and poultry and their products; about 1,300 samples of milk, milk products and frozen confections; about 1,300 samples of aquatic and related products; and about 7,500 samples of other food commodities (including beverages, bakery products and snacks).

The seven unsatisfactory samples comprised three grass carp samples detected with trace amounts of malachite green, a sample of frozen green wrasse fillet found to contain excessive methylmercury, a sample of canned fried fish fibre detected with excessive mercury, a frozen confection sample found to contain excessive counts of hygiene indicator organisms and a vegetable sample detected with excessive pesticide residue.

Hong Kong – CFS announces results of targeted surveillance on Bacillus cereus and Clostridium perfringens in ready-to-eat food

CFS

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (July 17) announced the results of a recently completed targeted food surveillance project on Bacillus cereus and Clostridium perfringens in ready-to-eat food. None of the samples taken were found to be unsatisfactory, according to the Microbiological Guidelines for Food.

“A total of 300 samples of ready-to-eat food were collected from different retail outlets including online retailers and food factories for testing of Bacillus cereus and Clostridium perfringens this year. The samples included dim sum, rice, noodles, pastries, soya products, stewed meat and meat sauce,” a spokesman for the CFS said.

Bacillus cereus is commonly found in the environment. It can form spores which are able to resist heat and survive cooking temperatures. Bacillus cereus can produce different toxins causing two types of food poisoning, with emetic intoxication (causing vomiting) being caused by heat-stable toxins in food, and diarrhoeal being caused by ingestion of a large amount of Bacillus cereus that can produce toxins in the intestine. As the production of preserved bean curd requires fermentation, Bacillus cereus will multiply when production is not hygienic or storage is not proper.

Cooking heat can activate the germination of Clostridium perfringens spores, which survive in anaerobic conditions like inside internal cavities, rolls of meat, stuffed poultry, or gravies. The organism can then multiply in the area where the oxygen level is low. Cooling of food at ambient temperature for a long period also allows rapid multiplication of the bacterium. Hence, foods prepared in bulk, especially cooked meat, poultry dishes and juices, which are stored at ambient temperatures with a long cooling period after cooking are at high risk. In food poisoning caused by Clostridium perfringens, common symptoms include sudden abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhoea.

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. When handling food that is not to be consumed immediately, keep it at a safe temperature (above 60 degrees Celsius or at 4 degrees C or below). Consume perishable prepackaged food and beverages promptly after opening or reheating and avoid prolonged storage at ambient temperatures. Reheat food thoroughly with the core temperature at 75 degrees C or above. If cooked foods are to be cooled, the trade should adopt measures to shorten the required cooling time to restrict the growth of Bacillus cereus and Clostridium perfringens in heat treated food. For example, install specific rapid chilling equipment, divide food into smaller portions and place it in shallow containers and in an ice bath. They should also closely monitor the refrigerator temperature and maintain a temperature log. Cross-contamination of food during cooling and storage should be prevented. The trade should also observe the Good Hygienic Practices in each stage of production to ensure safe and proper processing of the food and to comply with the limits stipulated in the Microbiological Guidelines for Food.

Ends/Friday, July 17, 2020