Maxim's under fire after moldy mooncakes cause food poisoning

September 16, 2015 13:10
As the Mid-Autumn Festival nears, consumers are advised to take extra care when buying mooncakes. A complaint has been filed against Maxim's Cakes for selling moldy cakes in one of its stores. Photo: Wikipedia, mingpao

A customer filed a complaint with the Food and Environment Hygiene Department (FEHD) against Maxim’s Cakes after the mooncakes she bought from the store turned out to be moldy and led to food poisoning, Ming Pao Daily reported on Wednesday.

The complainant, surnamed Lam, said she bought six boxes of Maxim’s low-sugar lotus seed paste mooncakes at a Maxim's shop in Tsuen Wan on Aug. 31.

She gave two boxes of the mooncakes, which had an Oct. 31 expiry date printed on them, to a client in Guangzhou.

Four days later, she was told that her client's 4-year-old son fell ill after eating the mooncakes. A doctor said he was suffering from food poisoning.

Lam said she inspected the contents of the other mooncake boxes and found that the cakes had molds.

She told Maxim's about it and sent samples of the mooncakes to the FEHD for examination. She also provided the store with photos of the moldy cakes.

“They [Maxim's] offered me a free exchange of products,” Lam said. “But they are missing the point.”

Lam said Maxim’s should offer a clear explanation why the mooncakes turned moldy.

The FEHD said the food samples were passed to a government laboratory for testing.

An inspection team the FEHD sent to the cake shop found its hygiene standards satisfactory, but no stocks of the type of mooncakes Lam had purchased were available at the store.

Maxim’s promised to look into the matter and follow up on Lam. 

The shop stressed that food safety and hygiene have always been its priorty, adding that all its mooncakes are manufactured in Hong Kong under the most stringent quality control. 

It did not discount the possibility that there could be tiny holes in the packaging material, which could have resulted in the growth of molds.

The Consumer Council said consumers should always mind the expiry date of food products before buying them, and follow the recommended storage instructions.

If possible, they should ask the shop staff to open the mooncake boxes for examination before making a purchase.

They should also retain the receipt in case they need to file a complaint later.

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