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High risk food - raw shrimp sashimi

Trade version

Hong Kong people like delicious food and sashimi is probably one of the most popular foods in recent years. Due to a high market demand, sashimi is available not only in Japanese restaurants, but also in restaurants providing South-East Asian foods. Sashimi is eaten raw and improper preparation and excessive intake can lead to food poisoning. As sashimi is a high risk food, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has stringent licensing requirements for food premises preparing and selling sashimi in Hong Kong.

Marine shrimps are commonly used in shrimp sashimi. Their shells are easily contaminated by pathogens, like Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio cholera. This explains why the risk of eating raw shrimp is high. In order to reduce the risk, the public should pay extra attention on the following tips -

  • It is not advisable to buy raw shrimps from market stalls to make shrimp sashimi
  • If you wish to make shrimp sashimi at home, buy shrimp only from reliable and reputable source
  • Before ordering sashimi in restaurants, check whether the premises have a FEHD licence with the display of an orange label with the relevant endorsement stickers at a conspicuous position near the entrance for easy reference by customers. If not, don't eat sashimi in these premises

  • Before eating shrimp sashimi, check whether the sashimi is cold; don't eat any sashimi which is not kept cold

  • If sashimi is not fresh or with a strange taste, stop eating and alert the operators of the premises

  • Minimize the amount of shrimp sashimi intake to reduce risk

  • People should seek medical treatment immediately if they feel unwell after eating shrimp sashimi.

  • People with weakened immunity, elderly, pregnant women and young children are at higher risk for foodborne illness and should not eat raw or partially cooked food.

Prepare shrimp sashimi carefully (Trade version)

As sashimi is a high risk food, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has stringent licensing requirements for food premises preparing and selling sashimi in Hong Kong. Permission must be obtained from the Department if restaurants want to make and sell sashimi for business.

During preparation, flesh of shrimps is easily contaminated by bacteria pathogens, like Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio cholera. As consuming contaminated shrimp sashimi can cause food poisoning, licensees and food handlers should stringently control the source of food materials and the whole processing.

Purchase and Receiving

  • Buy raw materials from reliable and hygienic suppliers. The production of seafood in some countries is in accordance with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) criteria, which helps to ensure food safety. It is not advisable to buy raw shrimps from the market stalls for preparing sashimi.
  • Raw materials should be fresh, wholesome and of good quality. Quality check should be conducted at the time of receiving, e.g. frozen raw materials are still in a frozen state. Parasites like roundworms and tapeworms in fish can generally be killed by freezing it at -20°C for 24 hours.
  • Imported raw materials for the preparation of sashimi should be accompanied with valid and recognised official health certificates.
  • Do not use ingredients beyond its expiry date.

Transportation

  • Store raw materials and food eaten raw in an independent, clean and hygienic environment during transportation to avoid cross-contamination. Keep chilled food at a temperature between 0°C and 4°C and frozen food at -18°C or below.

Storage

  • Store the food eaten raw in designated refrigerators or separate compartments of the refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination. Keep chilled food at a temperature between 0°C and 4°C and frozen food at -18°C or below.
  • The temperature of freezer and fridge should be closely monitored and temperature log record should be maintained.
  • Raw ingredients and food eaten raw should be stored separately to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Label the storage time of the food and check it regularly.
  • Adopt the “first-in-first-out” principle for storage. Do not use food beyond its expiry date or expected shelf life.
  • Keep separate stock record for the food eaten raw and its raw materials to monitor their rotation.
  • Avoid overstocking of food and its ingredients.
  • Do not overstuff the refrigerator.

Preparation

  • Designate a separate area in a food room and use designated knives and chopping boards for handling the food eaten raw.
  • Defrost frozen raw materials in refrigerators kept at a temperature between 0°C and 4°C and maintain it at this temperature before handling. Defrosted food should be handled and served to customers for consumption as soon as possible. Avoid re-freezing and re-defrosting.
  • Food eaten raw such as marine products should be washed in designated sink thoroughly to prevent cross-contamination.

Display and Sale

  • Food eaten raw placed inside display refrigerator should be properly wrapped up by clean, non-toxic materials or stored in covered containers and should bear a food label with expiry date.
  • The temperature of display refrigerator should be closely monitored and temperature log record should be maintained.
  • Cold food should be put in shallow utensils in a container with ice-cubes to keep the food in a chill state when serving to customers.
  • Cold food in self-service counter should be put in shallow utensils in a container with ice-cubes to keep the food in a chill state. After thawing out of the ice, new ice-cubes should be refilled with water discarded.
  • Food in self-serve conveyor belt or self-service counter should be properly covered.
  • Provide sufficient number of tongs with long handle at self-serve counter for customers. Replace the tongs regularly. Remove contaminated tongs from the counter immediately.
  • Supervise the self-serve counter area by appropriately trained staff to protect the food against contamination.
  • Keep displayed sashimi at temperature at 4°C or below.

Cleanliness of Utensils

  • Utensils should be thoroughly cleansed and sterilised by using a bactericidal agent approved by the Director of FEHD before and after use. Use clean and sterilised towel for wiping utensils.
  • All knives used for the preparation of sushi/sashimi and meat to be eaten raw shall be placed or stored under cover in the knife sterilisation apparatus and immersed in the sterilisation solution in the steriliser when they are not in use.
  • The sterilisation apparatus for the knife for preparation of sushi/sashimi and meat to be eaten raw shall be cleansed and the sterilisation solution shall be renewed at least once daily.

Personal Hygiene

  • All food handlers shall wear clean protective clothing and head coverings during food handling. If clothes become soiled during food preparation, change or clean them as necessary.
  • Food handlers are advised to wear masks and gloves during food handling. Discard the masks and gloves when damaged, soiled or after prolonged use.
  • Keep hands clean. Wash hands with running water and soap thoroughly for 20 seconds before handling food, after handling raw meat, poultry, raw seafood, dirty equipment, utensils and refuse.
  • Do not handle food in case of sore throat or gastro-intestinal symptoms like diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • Cover sore or cut on hands by coloured waterproof bandages.

 

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