Authorities in Hong Kong are investigating several suspected forged health certificates for oysters.
The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) found discrepancies in the serial numbers of certain health certificates when following up on an incident.
Importers are encouraged to get health certificates issued by authorities in the country of origin to accompany their shipments showing that food products are safe for human consumption.
There are seven potentially forged health certificates submitted by local importer Supreme Fine Food. In six of these documents covering raw oysters, Nicchu Bussan Goudougaisha is listed as the shipper.
There are 990 kilograms of Japanese raw oysters involved in six suspected fake health certificates, which were distributed to food premises. The remaining oysters have been discarded. About 300 kilograms of raw oysters were seized at the site.
The seventh suspicious health certificate includes 520 kilograms of Irish raw oysters. All of them have been sent to vendors and the distribution of affected products is being traced.
CFS visited the importer as part of the investigation and contacted the person in charge for more details on the incident.
The agency suspended the import of raw oysters from the Japanese shipper Nicchu Bussan Goudougaisha to Hong Kong. It also instructed the importer and food premises affected to stop supplying and selling the affected raw oysters.
CFS has stepped up inspection of all health certificates of raw oysters handled by the importer concerned. Preliminary findings have not identified problems with certificates from other overseas areas. Two raw oyster samples from food premises have been tested for norovirus but the results were satisfactory.
An investigation is ongoing involving CFS, Japanese authorities, and the Hong Kong police force.
Outbreaks in 2023
Meanwhile, in unrelated developments, six outbreaks have been investigated in Hong Kong since the start of the year.
Three have been linked to oysters. The first involved eight males and eight females, aged 25 to 36. The second affected four males and two females from 24 to 28 years old and the third included six males and five females, aged 25 and 60.
Beef contaminated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) used in a hot pot was behind the illness of a 33-month-old male child.
A Vibrio parahaemolyticus outbreak sickened five men and eight women, aged 36 to 64. The suspected source was razor clams and fan scallops. Another incident affecting two males and eight females, aged 1 to 68, was linked to lobster noodles.
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