Media reported that some people took home expired frozen ham and cheese abandoned at a refuse collection point in Yuen Long and on a roadside in Kwai Chung. The Centre for Food Safety considers that from the food safety angle, any food found abandoned on the street should not be collected for consumption, even though its appearance may be normal.
Refrigerated ready-to-eat foods including ham and cheese are perishable. They may contain and support the growth of food poisoning bacteria to unsafe levels before noticeably spoiled. They are therefore likely to constitute an immediate danger to human health after their expiry dates. Furthermore, the adverse effects of eating expired perishable foods can be worse after they have been kept without refrigeration for hours.
Under suitable temperature (i.e. from 4 oC to 60 oC, regarded as temperature danger zone), bacteria can multiply very quickly on high-risk foods; their number can double every 10 to 20 minutes. When some pathogenic bacteria multiply to a certain amount, they can cause food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning include upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, and dehydration. Symptoms may range from mild to severe. Perishable food items should be discarded if stored above 4oC for more than 4 hours.