As much as 10 percent of frozen food products randomly inspected by food safety officials in Hong Kong fail to meet quality standards.
The Hong Kong Center for Food Safety has found that 11 out of 100 samples of such food items, including cheese, processed meat and smoked seafood, contain bacteria exceeding safety limits, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.
For example, escherichia coli found in three samples of Camembert cheese were 10 times the allowed limit, indicating that the sample may have been contaminated at the production stage, the center said.
One smoked seafood sample and seven processed meat samples were found to have aerobic colony counts that exceed the limits prescribed in the Microbiological Guidelines for Food, and this could have resulted from post-processing contamination or inadequate temperature control, it said.
Chow Chor-yiu, head of the center’s risk assessment section, said no laws or regulations are in place yet to set the norms of sanitation in making cheese, making it hard for people to evaluate food risks.
Chow called on food manufacturers and distributors to provide sufficient information on food labels for consumers to make informed choices.
Listeria monocytogenes, a type of bacteria blamed for the death of at least two people in Hong Kong this year, has not been found in the random inspections.
However, the center warned that the bacteria could multiply even in temperatures as low as 0 degrees Celsius.
High-risk groups, including pregnant women, the elderly and those with weak immune systems, should be extra careful in eating frozen food products, the report said.
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