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Food Safety Focus (38th Issue, September 2009) – Food Incident Highlight

Food Poisoning Outbreaks Related to Buffets

Last month, the Centre for Food Safety was notified of four major food poisoning outbreaks related to buffets by the Centre for Health Protection. Over 50 persons developed symptoms after having buffets at two hotels. In these cases, oysters, sashimi and ready-to-eat cold dish were the suspected food items. Vibrio parahaemolyticus , Salmonella and norovirus were the suspected causative agents.

The key to the prevention of foodborne diseases is the strict observance of food, personal and environmental hygiene. When handling and consuming sushi, sashimi, raw oysters and ready-to-eat cold dish in buffets, the Five Keys to Food Safety should be followed to prevent food poisoning caused by bacteria and viruses. The trade is advised to: (1) choose raw materials from reliable sources and check their quality; (2) keep hands and utensils clean ; (3) separate raw and cooked food or ready-to-eat food; (4) cook food thoroughly; and (5) keep cold foods at safe temperature i.e. at or below 4°C.