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Food Safety Focus (90th Issue, January 2014) – Food Incident Highlight

Import Control for Avian Influenza

Recently, four confirmed human cases of avian influenza A have been reported in Hong Kong. Three cases were infected with H7N9 and one was infected with H9N2. All four patients involved had a history of stay in Shenzhen.

Avian influenza A viruses belong to a group of viruses that normally circulate among birds and occasionally found to infect humans. Because influenza viruses are inactivated by normal cooking temperatures, it is safe to eat properly prepared and cooked poultry and poultry eggs.

In response to the recent human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong, the import of live poultry from the registered farms in Shenzhen has been suspended as a precautionary measure. For poultry imported from other regions of the Mainland, each consignment will be screened for influenza A viruses, including the highly pathogenic H5 and H7 subtypes, at the Man Kam To border. Only the poultry with satisfactory test results would be released for sale. Members of the public are advised to observe good personal hygiene and avoid direct contact with poultry, birds and their droppings. The Centre for Food Safety will continue to monitor the situation.