Thu, Mar 30, 2017 - Page 3 News List

FDA warns of bacteria in online food products

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Of the 15 ready-to-eat food products bought from online vendors that failed Food and Drink Administration (FDA) inspections, 13 were meat and poultry products, the agency said yesterday, urging consumers to choose such foods carefully and reheat them thoroughly.

The agency released the results of a random inspection of the bacterial content in 128 products sold online that contained meat, poultry, eggs or milk.

The number of cases of mass food poisoning from such products have climbed in recent years, the agency said, citing one case in which more than 100 people in Taiwan and 46 in Hong Kong got food poisoning after eating sandwiches sold by the same online vendor.

Of the 15 failed items, 11 contained high levels of coliform bacteria; two had high levels of Escherichia coli, while eight contained bacterial pathogens, of which three contained staphylococcus aureus, three were contaminated with listeria monocytogenes and two with salmonella, the administration said.

Nine of the 39 meat products tested failed.

Among them were braised beef tripe, braised beef shank and braised pork knuckle products, FDA official Tsuei Hsiu-Wei (崔秀煒) said, adding that the four poultry products that failed were cooked chicken feet, wined chicken drumsticks and duck livers.

Most people who eat food contaminated with bacterial pathogens develop a stomachache, vomiting, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, he said.

Children, elderly people or those with weak immune systems who eat food containing listeria monocytogenes bacteria can also develop severe complications that can be life threatening, such as meningitis and sepsis, he said.

People should reheat ready-to-eat food products thoroughly, which kills most bacteria, but staphylococcus aureus enterotoxins are highly resistant to heat, so only selecting food from reputable companies is also extremely important, he said.

The agency said it has informed regional health bureaus that they must give guidance to the companies that failed the inspection and and reinspect them.

Food, tobacco and alcoholic beverages account for about 12.1 percent of all items purchased online in Taiwan.

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