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Food Safety Focus (127th Issue, February 2017) – Food Incident Highlight

Certain Raw Oysters from France, Ireland and Scotland Contaminated with Norovirus

Last month, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has banned the import into and sale within Hong Kong of raw oysters bred or harvested in Etang de Thau, France and Dungarvan Bay, Ireland or produced by Loch Fyne Oysters Ltd of Scotland due to suspected norovirus contamination. Norovirus is commonly found in sewage. Oysters may be contaminated by norovirus due to filter feeding in sewage-contaminated waters.

Norovirus infection affects people of all age groups, and is commonly known as the "winter vomiting disease", characterised by high incidence of vomiting, and occurs predominantly during the winter season. The public is reminded that, regardless of the region in which the oysters are harvested, consuming oysters, particularly raw or partially cooked ones, carries an inherent food safety risk. Susceptible populations (elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems) should avoid eating raw or partially cooked oysters. The trader is advised to obtain oysters from reliable sources with health certificates issued by the relevant authority of the exporting country.