Cheuk Wing-hing, Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene for Hong Kong, recently commended the food business for adopting the government’s Five Keys to Food Safety program, which has been successful in engaging a variety of stakeholders.

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According to Cheuk, 21 food trade associations and 1,700 licensed food facilities, supermarkets and convenience stores had signed a charter pledging to promote the message of the campaign and to put the food safety measures into practice.

The government’s Five Keys to Food Safety are: (1) choose: choose safe raw materials, (2) clean: keep hands and utensils clean, (3) separate: separate raw and cooked food, (4) cook: cook thoroughly, and (5) safe temperature: keep food at or below four degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit) or above 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit).

In coordination with the food safety program, Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety conducted a poll to gauge public knowledge of basic food safety practices. The poll found that while 96 percent of people agreed with the food safety recommendations, many were unaware of certain best practices.  Only 24 percent knew the 20-second rule for hand washing and only 27 percent of those polled knew the proper internal cooking temperature to ensure thorough cooking.

Nearly half of respondents said they had neglected some of the provisions–48 percent had neglected separating raw and cooked ingredients and 45 percent said they had neglected to ensure a safe temperature in food preparation.

The program has engaged the public through events, educational activities, public service announcements, posters, and other promotional materials, and they have created a Food Safety Day.