Food Safety Focus (148th Issue, November 2018) – Food Incident Highlight
Hepatitis E and Food Safety
Recently, two immunocompromised patients were diagnosed separately suffering from Hepatitis E with rat Hepatitis E virus detected. It was reported that rat might be associated with the disease transmission. Hepatitis E can be transmitted by faecal-oral route mainly via contaminated food and water. There were about a hundred of cases of Hepatitis E per year reported in Hong Kong from 2010 to 2014. Foodborne transmission is a possible means which can be caused by the ingestion of meat, offals or meat products from infected animals without proper heat treatment.
To prevent Hepatitis E infection, it is important to maintain good food hygiene practice such as cleaning and cooking food thoroughly as well as handling raw and cooked food separately. Proper storage and coverage of food can reduce the risk of contamination by rats. In addition, good personal hygiene should be observed like washing hands with soaps prior to food preparation and before meals.