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Purchasing high-risk foods online or bring them from other places into Hong Kong

Recently, there have been growing concerns about the safety of foods that have been imported through e-trade or brought into Hong Kong by travellers from other places. The Centre for Food Safety reminds the trade and the public that food safety principles should be applied to importing high-risk foods, regardless of their types and sources.

Identifying high-risk foods and the risks

Milk, gravy, any foods containing eggs, meat, poultry, seafood as ingredients (such as sandwiches, ham, sushi, custard, dairy-based desserts, etc.), and prepared fruits and vegetables (such as salads) are high-risk foods because they provide a place for bacteria to grow and multiply quickly and are ready-to-eat foods (i.e. foods that don't need any further cooking). Under suitable temperature (i.e. from 4°C to 60°C, regarded as temperature danger zone), bacteria can multiply very quickly on high-risk foods; their number can double every 10 to 20 minutes. When some pathogenic bacteria multiply to a certain amount, they can cause food poisoning. Temperature control is especially important for high-risk foods. People who purchase high-risk foods online or bring them from other places into Hong Kong need to make sure the products can be kept in safe temperature during the transportation as instructed by the food sellers or suppliers.

How to keep high-risk foods safe for consumption ?

High-risk foods must be

  • Protected from contamination with pathogens; and
  • Stored at refrigerated (i.e. at or below 4°C) temperature or frozen (at or below -18°C) temperature along the whole food production/ supply chain.

Advice to the Trade

  • The importers should verify that their overseas suppliers have proper controls (e.g. implementing HACCP food safety management system) in place to ensure that the imported high-risk foods are fit for human consumption and comply with legal standards.
  • The importers should ensure that high-risk foods are stored at appropriate temperature throughout the whole supply chain .

Advice to the public

  • Patronise reliable food premises especially for high-risk foods.
  • When bringing or order high-risk foods from other places into Hong Kong, keep them within the temperatures stated on the instruction, check and observe the use-by dates on food products .
  • Throw out any high-risk foods that have been left in the temperature danger zone for more than four hours.
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Last Revision Date : 25-08-2015