Hong Kong surveillance system detects 2,000 incidents in 2021

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Around 2,200 food incidents were detected in 2021 in a system used to monitor issues outside of Hong Kong.

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) uses the Food Incident Surveillance System (FISS) to record events and review the potential national impact on the local community. More than 2,000 incidents were recorded in 2020.

The CFS reviews import records, communicates with foreign authorities regarding the export record of affected products to Hong Kong, and contacts local traders to verify sales.

The agency may also issue an alert to notify the public of the incident and provide guidance to those who may have the affected items. If the affected products are available in the local market, the CFS would order traders to stop sales, remove them from shelves and issue a recall.

In 2021, the CFS issued food incident messages and alerts involving chemical hazards such as metal contaminants, toxins, undeclared allergens; microbiological hazards such as Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli; physical hazards and other issues, including incorrect date labeling. More than half of the incidents were related to chemical risks and 380 concerned food allergens.

Example of a Vibrio oyster
An example was given of how the system works with raw oysters produced in Australia suspected of being contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

In mid-November 2021, through FISS, CFS identified an advisory issued by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) that raw Pacific oysters produced at Coffin Bay were subject to a recall. due to contamination by Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

At the start of December 2021, more than 200 infections were under investigation in Australia. For those who had reported consuming oysters and for whom a traceback investigation had been carried out, links to oysters produced in Coffin Bay had been established.

CFS issued a food incident message to inform consumers of the incident and found that five companies had imported the products into Hong Kong. However, no domestic infections have been recorded. The agency has stepped up surveillance of raw ready-to-eat oysters from various origins, but tests have come back negative for Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

Analysis of food sold online
In other work, CFS tested food from online delivery platforms. All 80 samples passed the tests.

The microbiological analysis focused on various food pathogens. The chemical tests targeted metal contaminants, dyes, preservatives and residues of veterinary drugs.

“CFS closely monitors the safety of food offered for sale online and collects samples of online food, including those purchased from online takeaway platforms, for testing as part of the Food Watch Program. routine,” a CFS spokesperson said.

“Given the growing demand for food ordering through online food delivery platforms by the public amid the pandemic, CFS conducted a targeted surveillance project to collect various types of food, including cold drinks , cold desserts, salad, sushi, sashimi, sandwiches, siu-mei, burgers, dim sum, pizza, soup, rice dishes, congee, noodles and pasta from different online food delivery platforms for microbiological and chemical tests.

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