The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has conducted microbiological and chemical testing on some 62 000 food samples in 2004 and the results show that food safety remained at a very high standard. The overall failure rate for both microbiological and chemical testing was 0.3%, same as that in 2002 and 2003.
While microbiological tests covered pathogenic bacteria and viruses, chemical tests were used to detect natural toxins, food additives and contaminants.
Regarding microbiological tests, about 22 600 food samples were analysed with unacceptable levels of pathogens found in 24 samples. This amounts to a failure rate of 0.1%, same as that in 2002 and 2003.
The pathogens detected included bacteria such as Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes. This reflected the importance of good hygiene practice in the handling of ready-to-eat food and the need for proper storage during cooling, transportation and sale of food prior to consumption. Though the findings indicate that the failure rate remained low, FEHD has remained vigilant by closely monitoring the situation to ensure continuous improvement. Manufacturers are urged to ensure that all food for sale are fit for human consumption and to exercise due diligence as well. Consumers are strongly advised to patronize licensed and reputable restaurants.
Turning to chemical analyses, about 37 700 food samples were tested in 2004 and 140 were found to be unsatisfactory, representing a failure rate of 0.4%. This low rate was comparable with that found in 2002 and 2003. There was significant improvement in pesticide tests on some 19,000 samples, with 17 failures recorded in 2004, as against 56 in 2002 and 20 in 2003 in which about 17,000 samples were tested each year.