Public urged to avoid consumption of contaminated prepackaged Santa Maria cheese sauce from the Netherlands


25th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) under the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has issued a warning to the public regarding a particular type of prepackaged cheese sauce imported from the Netherlands. The product, known as DIP NACHO CHEESE STYLE and branded as Santa Maria, is suspected to be contaminated with Bacillus cereus, a harmful bacterium. Therefore, the CFS strongly advises against consuming this product. Furthermore, the trade is urged to immediately cease using or selling the affected batches if they possess them.

The specific details of the product in question are as follows: it weighs 250 grams and bears the batch codes 2329019 and 2329231, with best-before dates of 7th June, 2025, and 20th June, 2025. The importer responsible for bringing this product into Hong Kong is Pear & Carrot Limited.

The CFS was informed by the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed of the European Commission that the aforementioned batches of the product might have become contaminated with Bacillus cereus and are now being recalled. Upon receiving this notification, the CFS promptly contacted the local importer involved to initiate appropriate follow-up measures. A preliminary investigation revealed that the importer had indeed imported and ordered the affected batches of the product.

In response to the situation, the concerned importer has taken immediate action. Sales of the product have been halted, and the affected batches have been removed from store shelves. Additionally, a recall process has been initiated in accordance with the instructions provided by the CFS. Those seeking further information or assistance regarding the recall can contact the importer’s hotline at 3616 0248 during regular office hours. To prevent the product from entering the local market, the CFS will mark and seal any shipments of the product upon its arrival in Hong Kong.

Bacillus cereus is a bacterium commonly found in the environment. Conditions that are unhygienic during food processing and storage can contribute to its growth. Consuming food contaminated with excessive amounts of Bacillus cereus or its heat-stable toxins can result in gastrointestinal issues, including vomiting and diarrhoea, among other symptoms.

The spokesperson for the CFS strongly advises consumers who have purchased the affected product not to consume it. Furthermore, the trade should immediately discontinue the use or sale of the product if they possess any. The CFS will notify relevant traders about the incident and will continue to monitor the situation closely, taking appropriate actions as necessary. The investigation into the matter is currently ongoing, and updates will be provided accordingly.