The Changhua County Government’s Public Health Bureau has collected samples from sandwich chain Horng Ryen Jen Cake and Biscuit Store’s (洪瑞珍) products for testing to ascertain the cause of a recent spate of food poisoning cases in Hong Kong.
“The bureau launched a probe into the matter immediately after the Ministry of Health and Welfare notified us of several cases of food poisoning in Hong Kong allegedly caused by Horng Ryen Jen’s sandwiches,” Public Health Bureau director Yeh yen-po (葉彥伯) said yesterday.
Yeh said its preliminary investigation showed that the sandwiches involved in the cases were provided by three different retailers, who could have purchased the products from different Taiwanese branches of Horng Ryen Jen.
Yeh made the remarks days after Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety reported 13 people contracted food poisoning after allegedly eating Horng Ryen Jen’s sandwiches bought at local stores.
Another 16 cases were confirmed on Sunday — seven males and nine females — who experienced diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and other symptoms five to 29 hours after eating the sandwiches in question between Sunday and Wednesday last week.
“From our understanding, Horng Ryen Jen’s founding store in the county’s Beidou Township (北斗) has never exported its sandwiches to Hong Kong. However, a biotech company in Taipei did purchase a large quantity of the products and shipped them to Hong Kong,” Yeh said.
Yeh said an on-site inspection of the sandwich chain’s Beidou factory last week did not detect any problems with its manufacturing line, but more details on the case are likely to be available after test results are returned in the next two weeks.
He also said it could have been improper storage by the chain’s retailers that affected the food quality.
The bureau’s food section chief Lin Yu-fen (林毓芬) said Horng Ryen Jen’s sandwiches could be stored at room temperatures for only 12 hours, but could be stored for five days if refrigerated or 15 days if frozen.
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