Key Message: Foodborne diseases (food poisoning) are caused by eating food contaminated by disease-causing microorganisms. Upon eating contaminated food, you may fall ill and suffer from acute symptoms. In Hong Kong, food poisoning is a statutory notifiable disease.

Symptoms of food poisoning include:

Sometimes, people can get infected with anti-microbial 'superbugs' from contaminated food without developing any symptoms. These 'superbugs' however can make standard treatments become ineffective and infections more difficult to treat.

Causes of Foodborne Diseases

Foodborne diseases are diseases of an infectious or toxic nature. Among pathogens, bacteria are the most common cause of foodborne diseases. Bacteria can cause contamination of food if food is not properly handled and thoroughly cooked, or the food handler does not practise good personal and environmental hygiene.

Favourable Factors for Bacterial Growth

The presence of water and nutrients, along with favourable temperature, promotes the survival and growth of bacteria. Inadequate cooking, contamination by raw food and improper holding temperature are the three most frequently identified contributing factors to foodborne diseases in Hong Kong.

Temperature Danger Zone

Storing food within the Temperature Danger Zone between 4°C and 60°C allows bacteria to grow rapidly. Proper temperature control at all stages of food preparation is an effective way to prevent bacterial food poisoning. While low temperature storage will inhibit growth of bacteria but cannot kill them, high temperature treatment can destroy bacteria effectively.

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