Import and sale of raw oysters harvested from Catch Area 50-04 of France prohibited immediately

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (January 12) that the import into and sale within Hong Kong of raw oysters harvested in Catch Area 50-04 of France has been prohibited with immediate effect.

A spokesman for the CFS said, "The CFS was notified by the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health of a food poisoning case which involved consumption of raw oysters. The stool specimen of one of the affected persons tested positive for norovirus upon laboratory testing. The CFS immediately deployed staff to conduct follow-up investigation at the restaurant concerned in Quarry Bay and its food supplier. No remaining stock of the affected batch of raw oysters was found. According to the information provided by the restaurant and the food supplier concerned, the affected raw oysters were harvested in Catch Area 50-04 of France. For the sake of prudence, the CFS has immediately banned the import into and sale within Hong Kong of all raw oysters harvested from the area."

Furthermore, based on the distribution information provided by the food supplier, the CFS has contacted other vendors which have purchased the same batch of raw oysters and confirmed that there was no remaining stock of the affected batch.

The spokesman pointed out that as oysters are fed by filtering a large volume of seawater, pathogens (such as norovirus), chemical contaminants or natural toxins can accumulate in them if they are grown in or harvested from contaminated water. Regardless of the season or the region in which the oysters are harvested, consuming oysters, particularly raw or partially cooked ones, carries an inherent food safety risk. Susceptible groups, such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems or liver diseases, should avoid eating raw oysters.

The CFS has informed the French authorities of the import ban and will also notify the local trade. It will continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action to safeguard food safety and public health. Investigation is ongoing.

Ends/Tuesday, January 12, 2016