Just nine of 4,400 food samples tested during March by Hong Kong’s Center for Food Safety failed to pass.

In its monthly “Food Safety Report,” the Center for Food Safety reported on five food samples that did not pass its routine food surveillance program.  Those included:

-Frozen suckling pig with an unacceptable level of Chlortetracycline of 0.26 parts per million (ppm),

-Norovirus nucleic acid detected in raw oyster.

-Chocolate milk with an unsatisfactory hygienic indicator, high colonies count.

-Hakka dumpling contaminated with a pathogen, Bacillus cereus.

-Coconut cake with an unacceptable Sorbic acid level of 1,700 ppm.

The Center for Food Safety did not find any problems in 2,000 samples of fruits and vegetables nor with 100 samples of cereal and grain products.  Fruits and vegetables are subjected to both microbiological and chemical testing, including checks for pesticides, preservatives, and artificial coloring.

Cereals and grains, including rice and noodles, also undergo microbiological and chemical tests, including checks for sweeteners.

The Center for Food Safety tested about 600 meat and poultry samples, including fresh, chilled, and frozen pork, ready-to-eat dishes served at food outlets, and various Chinese preserved sausage, hams, and meats.  In addition to the problem with the frozen suckling pig sample, the Center for Food Safety earlier in the month reported on meat samples that were found to contain sulphur dioxide.

About 200 seafood samples were tested, including fish, shellfish, shrimp, crab, squid, and their products.  Chemical tests include checks for drug residues, biotoxins, metallic contamination, and preservatives.  The raw oyster with Norovirus was the only seafood problem.

Milk and milk products were tested for bacterial counts and pathogens and for various chemicals including melamine.  Only the Chocolate milk came back negative.

Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, which runs the Center for Food Safety, tests a wide variety of “other foods,” including dim sum, sushi, mixed dishes, beverages, and condiments.  These tests discovered the problems with the coconut cake and Hakka dumpling.

The Center for Food Safety traces the source of every food item failing its tests, and then asks food vendors to stop the sale and dispose of incriminated food items.  Follow up samples are taken for further analysis.

The department also issues warning letters and can initiate prosecution if there is sufficient evidence.

Hong Kong also has “5 Keys to Food Safety” for its food industry.   They are:

-Choose–Choose safe raw materials.

-Clean–Keep hands and utensils clean.

-Separate – Separate raw and cooked food.

-Cook -Cook thoroughly.

-Safe Temperature – Keep food at safe temperature.