We've all heard the horror stories related to food hygiene in Hong Kong. Fish tanks carrying cholera, pork disguised as beef and sushi expiry dates being "edited" are just a few in my (scintillating) dinner party repertoire. And as the heat and humidity rise, the risks of cross contamination and disease, such as hepatitis A, will only get worse. On that cheery note(!), we have studied the HK government's guidelines on food hygiene in the home to produce a succinct 2 pager that you can download, print and stick to the 'fridge. We could all do with a reminder of these, above all if you have hired a new helper from abroad. Download & print this pdf and stick it to your fridge!
• Don't buy from illegal hawkers, only reliable and reputable sources.
• Look at the food before you buy it. Don’t buy it if it smells or looks bad.
• Canned/tinned food should be free of dents, cracks or bulging lids.
• Choose fresh meat and veg. Meat should have a fresh red colour, lustre and an elastic feel.
• Vegetables should have a fresh green colour with no rotting leaves.
• When buying live fish and shellfish, check whether the container and water for keeping them are clean. Buy only fresh shellfish which have intact shells and are not abnormally smelly!
• Purchase roasted/cooked foods that are covered.• Avoid buying cold foods/fruits that have been cut/peeled.• Look at the "use by" or "best before". Don't buy expired food.
• Purchase cold products last and use separate packages for this.
• Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food and after handling raw meat.
• Do not handle food when suffering from diarrhea or other gastro-intestinal illness.
• Raw and cooked foods should be handled separately to prevent cross contamination. Use different sets of knives and chopping boards.
• Keep your refrigerator's temperature below 4 degrees C. Do not store excessive amount of food in the refrigerator, as this will affect the circulation of cold air.
• Thaw frozen foods properly, preferably at a temperature of 4°C or below.
• Avoid preparing foods too far in advance or excessive amounts. All meat, seafood and vegetables must be washed thoroughly. Remove all internal organs from fish. Scrub the shells of shellfish, and then soak them in clean water for a period of time.
• Remove the outer leaves of vegetables, and soak the vegetables in clean water for a period of time, before cooking, to prevent pesticide poisoning.
• Cut chunky meat into small pieces to enable thorough cooking.
• Wash foods thoroughly before cooking.
• Cook food thoroughly with a core temperature of at least 75° C.
• Store chill/frozen food immediately after you get home.
• Store cold food under cold (at or below 4° C) conditions.
• Store hot food under hot (at or above 63° C) conditions.
• Store raw and cooked food separately. Cooked food should be placed in the upper part of a fridge to prevent contamination by dripping of raw food.
• Store canned food in a cool, clean, dry place.
• Wash your hands before eating
• Avoid a long wait between cooking and eating.
• Cooked foods not for immediate consumption must not stand more than two hours at room temperature.
• Wash hands before and after handling leftovers.
• Reheat leftovers thoroughly to a core temperature of at least 75℃. Bring soups, sauces and gravies to boil.
• Keep the kitchen clean. Wash the walls, floor, and ceiling regularly.
• Keep rubbish bin covered to avoid rats and cockroaches.
• Hands should be washed before meals and after using the toilet.