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Safety of Flavoured Ice Beverage

Introduction

1. Flavoured Ice Beverage (FIB) has become a popular food item in recent years.
   
2. Recently, a news report queried the safety of FIB available on the market. We have conducted an evaluation regarding the safety of FIB including a special round of surveillance and inspection.
 

Risk Assessment and Public Health Significance

1. FIB is a blended mixture of water, ice cubes and other food ingredients such as syrup, juice flavour, red bean, and yoghurt. The proportion of ice cubes and water exceeds 80% of the final product.
   
2. The manufacturing process of FIB is relatively simple. Potable water, ice cubes and other food ingredients are mixed and blended in an electric blender. The finished products are commonly sold in sealed disposable cups and are usually consumed by the customers immediately.
   
3. Preparation of FIB is simple and minimal hand manipulation is required. The chance of microbiological hazard introduced through poor personal hygiene is comparatively low.
   
4. Even if trace of bacteria is introduced through improper handling of food, it is unlikely to multiply to a significant amount in a short period of time as FIB is usually consumed immediately after preparation,
   
5. Microbiological hazard evaluation carried out by us indicated that FIB(s) are not inherently unsafe.
   
6. As a general rule of food safety and hygiene, all FIB outlets should apply good manufacturing, preparation and hygiene practices to ensure the beverages sold are free from contamination.
 
Control Measures and Surveillance Findings

1. FIB outlets are governed by the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance, Cap. 132, which requires all food sold must be safe for human consumption.
   
2. We had conducted a special round of inspection to all licensed food premises selling FIB in 2000. During the inspections, health inspectors had explained in details to all licensees and operators the good manufacturing practices involved in the preparation of FIB. A pamphlet on "Good Manufacturing Practices for Flavoured Ice Beverages" had also been distributed to all licensed food premises selling FIB.
   
3. In 1999, 26 samples were taken for surveillance. One of these samples was found contaminated with salmonella species. From January 2000 to July 2000, another 17 samples were taken. One sample was found to be unsatisfactory in terms of hygienic quality.
 

Advice to the Public

 
1. Never purchase foods from any unlicensed food premises.
   
2. The beverages should be consumed right after preparation.
   
3. Watch out any improper hygiene practices or poor personal hygiene of the food handlers at the FIB outlets.
 
Advice to the Trade
1. Avoid using high-risk foods as ingredients for FIB.
   
2. Obtain the ingredients from reliable sources.
   
3. Observe good manufacturing, preparation and hygiene practices.
   
4. Ingredients should be used on a first-in-first-out principle to avoid prolonged storage.
   
5. Keep all the equipment and utensils clean and in good condition.
   
6. If water filters are used, they should be checked, cleansed and replaced regularly.

 

 

Risk Assessment Section
September 2000

 

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