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Food Safety Focus (37th Issue, August 2009) – Food Incident Highlight

Mircobiological Quality of Ice-cream and Frozen Confections

Ice-cream and frozen confections are particularly popular during summer time. However, due to the hot weather, improper handling of these products (e.g. storage temperature not low enough (-18oC or below) and freezer door not properly closed) is favourable to bacterial growth.

In May and June 2009, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) conducted a targeted food surveillance project on the microbiological quality of ice-cream and frozen confections. A total of 1 000 samples were tested and none was found with pathogens. Regarding the quality and hygienic indicators, meaning the total bacterial count and tests of coliform organisms, 11 samples were found to exceed the legal standards. Nevertheless, usual consumption was unlikely to pose significant health effect. Regarding the unsatisfactory samples, the CFS issued warning letters and conducted follow-up inspections. Test results of follow-up samples were all satisfactory. The CFS advises consumers to buy ice-cream and frozen confections from reliable shops and not to consume any product which is out of expiry date or of inferior quality.