Food Safety Focus (129th Issue, April 2017) – Food Incident Highlight
Brazilian Meat Incident
On 21 March 2017, in view of the reports of the Brazilian meat incident, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has, as a precautionary measure, temporarily suspended all import of frozen and chilled meat and poultry meat from Brazil. As the case evolved, the Brazilian authorities informed Hong Kong later that Brazil has extended its scope of export ban to the 21 plants which were under investigation. Taking into consideration the latest information available including those provided by the Brazilian authorities, the CFS on 28 March 2017 has adjusted its import suspension by narrowing the restriction to the 21 plants under investigation as announced by the Brazilian authorities earlier.
Since the import suspension, the CFS has enhanced surveillance on meats from Brazil. As of 18 April, 202 samples were taken at the import and retail level for testing of meat deterioration and other food safety indicators (such as metallic contaminants). All samples passed the tests. In the past three years, under the routine food surveillance programme, the CFS took 17 060 samples of meat and poultry meat for testing and all the 36 unsatisfactory samples identified were not from Brazil.
Nevertheless, raw meats, regardless of their origins, often contain harmful organisms. In particular, Salmonella can be found in raw poultry which is hard to be eliminated. To prevent foodborne illnesses, consumers should cook all raw meats thoroughly, wash and dry hands thoroughly after handling raw meats, and ensure all utensils that have been in contact with the raw meats are properly washed and dried to avoid cross-contamination.
Hong Kong has been maintaining close liaison with the Brazilian authorities on the issue and will suitably adjust the import restriction and other follow-up action in response to the latest development.