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Food Safety Focus (105th Issue, April 2015) – Food Incident Highlight

Import of Raw Oysters from Donegal County, Ireland Banned

In February, during the investigation on norovirus food poisoning outbreaks, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) was notified by Irish authorities that norovirus was found in a raw oyster processing plant in Donegal County. For the sake of prudence, the CFS has banned the import of all raw oysters from Donegal County into Hong Kong.

Norovirus is commonly found in sewage. Oysters may be contaminated by norovirus due to filter feeding in sewage-contaminated waters. In humans, norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach and/or intestines. The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain.

As there is no effective measure that can completely eliminate the risk of norovirus in raw oysters, consumers should pay particular attention to the associated food safety risk when making food choices. Traders should obtain raw oysters from reliable sources with health certificates issued by relevant authority of the exporting countries.