13th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has revealed that a sample of black glutinous rice dessert was discovered to contain an excessive amount of Bacillus cereus. The CFS is actively pursuing the matter to ensure public safety.
The black glutinous rice dessert sample was obtained by the CFS from Yi Ka restaurant located at G/F, 51 Belcher’s Street, Kennedy Town, for testing purposes. The results indicated that the sample contained Bacillus cereus at a level of 260,000 per gram, surpassing the permissible limit. According to the Microbiological Guidelines for Food, any ready-to-eat food exceeding 100,000 Bacillus cereus per gram is considered unsatisfactory, as stated by a CFS spokesperson.
In response to the findings, the CFS has conducted inspections of the food premises, issued instructions to suspend the sale of the affected food product, provided food safety and hygiene education to the person-in-charge and staff, and mandated thorough cleaning, disinfection, and the implementation of an improvement plan. The food premises involved has been informed of the identified irregularity, and prosecution may be pursued if sufficient evidence is obtained.
Bacillus cereus is a naturally occurring bacterium found in the environment. Its growth can be facilitated by unhygienic conditions during food processing and storage. Consumption of food contaminated with excessive Bacillus cereus or its heat-stable toxins can lead to gastrointestinal disturbances such as vomiting and diarrhoea, warns the CFS spokesperson.
Under section 54 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132), all food available for sale in Hong Kong, whether locally produced or imported, must meet the standards for human consumption. Violators can face a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for up to six months upon conviction.
The CFS will continue to investigate the incident diligently and take appropriate measures to safeguard public health. The ongoing investigation aims to identify the root cause and prevent similar incidents in the future.