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Import and sale of raw oysters harvested in Etang de Thau, France prohibited immediately

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (January 10) that the import into and sale within Hong Kong of raw oysters harvested in Etang de Thau, France, has been prohibited with immediate effect.

A spokesman for the CFS said, "The CFS received a notification from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) of the European Commission that raw oysters bred in the above-mentioned area were found to be contaminated with norovirus. The French authorities concerned have therefore interdicted harvest and distribution of the affected products from the area from January 5 and a recall of the affected products harvested from December 20, 2016 to January 5, 2017 is underway. For the sake of prudence, the CFS has immediately banned the import into and sale within Hong Kong of all raw oysters harvested in the area concerned."

The spokesman said that based on the information provided by the RASFF, some of the affected raw oysters had been imported into Hong Kong by two local importers, namely Gourmet Cuisine Hong Kong Limited and the House of Fine Foods Limited. The CFS immediately contacted the two importers concerned for follow-up. According to the information provided by them, 55 kilograms (kg) and 27kg of the affected raw oysters have been imported respectively. All the product has been sold or disposed of and there is no remaining stock. The CFS is tracing the distribution of the product concerned. Members of the public may call Gourmet Cuisine Hong Kong Limited (2494 1969) and the House of Fine Foods Limited (2870 0840) during office hours for enquiries.

The spokesman pointed out that as oysters feed by filtering a large volume of seawater, pathogens (such as norovirus), chemical contaminants or natural toxins can accumulate in them if they are grown in or harvested from contaminated water. Regardless of the season or the region in which the oysters are harvested, consuming oysters, particularly raw or partially cooked ones, carries an inherent food safety risk. Susceptible groups, such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems or liver diseases, should avoid eating raw oysters.

The CFS has informed the French authorities of the import ban and will also notify the local trade. It will continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action to safeguard food safety and public health.

Ends/Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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Last revision date: 10-01-2017