Import and sale of mussels harvested from Spring Bay, Tasmania, Australia prohibited immediately

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (March 18) that as notified by the Australian authorities that mussels harvested from Spring Bay, Tasmania, Australia were under recall due to the detection of unsatisfactory levels of diarrhetic shellfish toxins (DST), the CFS has decided to prohibit the import into and sale within Hong Kong of all mussels harvested from the area with immediate effect. The trade should stop using and selling the product immediately. Members of the public should also stop consuming the product.

A spokesman for the CFS said, "The CFS was notified by the Australian authorities concerned this evening that mussels harvested from Spring Bay of Tasmania were detected with unsatisfactory levels of DST, and were being recalled. The harvest area concerned has been closed since March 18. According to the information provided by the Australian authorities, certain affected product has been imported into Hong Kong."

Based on the relevant information, the Centre has followed up with the local importers concerned. Initial investigations revealed that City Super Limited, Chi Fat Seafood Company Limited and New Tasmania Fresh Pty Ltd might have imported the affected product. The CFS has requested the importers concerned to immediately stop selling the affected product and initiate a recall, and is tracing the distribution of the product concerned."

The spokesman urged consumers who had bought the affected product to immediately stop consumption. If they have bought similar food item recently but are not sure about its place of origin, they should also refrain from eating it for the sake of prudence and check the product's origin with relevant retailers. If symptoms develop after consuming the food, they should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Members of the public may call the hotlines of City Super Limited at 2277 9777, Chi Fat Seafood Company Limited at 9103 7818 and New Tasmania Fresh Pty Limited at 2555 0478 during office hours for enquiries about the recall.

DST is sometimes found in bi-valve shellfish. It is heat-stable and cannot be destroyed through cooking. People who consumed products containing DST will develop diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, chills and moderate to severe abdominal pain between 30 minutes and several hours. Usually, recovery is expected within a few days.

Some precautionary measures to avoid shellfish poisoning are as follows:

* Remove the viscera before cooking, avoid consuming the cooking sauce and eat a small amount of shellfish in one meal;
* Children, patients and the elderly may be susceptible to poisoning and should be cautious in consuming shellfish;
* When symptoms occur after consuming shellfish, seek medical advice immediately.

The CFS has informed the Australian authorities of the import ban, and will also notify the local trade. The trade should stop using or selling the affected product immediately should they have imported and still possess it.

The CFS will continue to closely follow up on the incident and take appropriate actions, including enhancing surveillance of aquatic products imported from Tasmania to safeguard food safety and public health. Investigation is ongoing.

Ends/Friday, March 18, 2016