As a local specialty, Poon Choi is particularly popular at Lunar New Year's Eve. Since Poon Choi comprises a great variety of food ingredients and requires longer preparation time, these lead to potential risks. To prevent bacterial food poisoning caused by Poon Choi, we should keep in mind the following simple yet effective Five Keys to Food Safety for consumption of this traditional food:
First, Choose. Patronise licensed and reliable restaurants with good hygienic conditions and do not go to unlicensed restaurants. When ordering Poon Choi, we should inform the supplier of the time we collect it to avoid cooking too far in advance. Stop eating Poon Choi immediately if there are any foods in abnormal taste or smell.
Second, Clean. We should check if the staff keep the restaurant clean and pay attention to personal hygiene. After going to the toilet and before eating, we should wash hands thoroughly with liquid soap and water for 20 seconds to keep our hands clean.
Third, Separate. It is better for the food trade to store cooked Poon Choi and uncooked food in separate refrigerators. If raw food and cooked food are stored in the same refrigerator, make sure that food containers are completely covered or sealed with cling wrap to avoid contact between raw food and cooked food. Cooked Poon Choi should be put in the upper compartment of a refrigerator, while raw food in the lower compartment to prevent their juices from dripping onto the cooked food.
Fourth, Cook. As Poon Choi comprises a wide variety of food ingredients, it must be cooked thoroughly before consumption. Reheat Poon Choi thoroughly till the core temperature reaches at least 75 ℃ or bring it to a boil before eating. Also, we should pay attention to the quantity of food as the required reheating time increases with larger quantity. Consume Poon Choi immediately after thorough reheating; use communal chopsticks and spoons during consumption; and eat up all the food in one go to avoid repeated reheating. To safeguard our health, do not consume any undercooked ingredients (e.g. chicken with red juices). If ingredients in Poon Choi are not hot enough or are heated unevenly, we should reflect this to the staff at the restaurant immediately and ask them to reheat it again.
Lastly, Safe Temperature. The ingredients in Poon Choi are prepared in advance and pre-cooked for reheating before consumption. Hence, if Poon Choi has to be stored temporarily or transported, keep it at 4 ℃ or below, or above 60 ℃, to reduce the risk of bacteria growth due to prolonged storage at room temperature. Chilled "Poon Choi" should be kept at 4 ℃ or below to minimise its exposure to the temperature danger zone of 4 to 60 ℃.
To enjoy Poon Choi safely at Lunar New Year's Eve, we should also maintain a balanced diet. Avoid eating too much food high in fat and/or saturated fat (e.g. stewed pork) and choose more high-fibre foods (e.g. vegetable and radish).