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How safe is HK food

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Toronto, Canada
posts: 35
reviews: 1
How safe is HK food

Hey,

So I have traveled to some tropical destinations such as Dominican Republic and Mexico and have gotten very very sick from food poisoning, but when ever I go to Westren Europe or here in North America im fine. Are the standards roughly the same and what should I look for in a restaurant?

Thanks alot

Toronto, Canada
posts: 1,361
reviews: 34
1. Re: How safe is HK food

Safe is relative. Hong Kong imports a lot of its food from mainland China which means food comes from a notoriously polluted environment but the impact from those effects are likely longer term.

But your first concern will probably be from nasty bugs and such.

Start by reading the Canadian travel health advisories available at:

www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/236_e.html

Note in particular that "Hepatitis A is acquired indirectly through water or food contaminated with human feces. Inadequately treated water, or polluted fresh or sea water can cause infection. Shellfish, such as oysters and mussels, are frequently carriers. Milk, cold meats and other food contaminated during preparation can also be sources.

Hepatitis A is also transmitted directly through oral-fecal contact with an infected individual; though person-to-person exposure is unlikely when good hygiene practices (e.g., hand washing) are in place. Person-to-person transmission is particularly common between children, and between sexual partners. Children, who are frequently asymptomatic, are a major cause of infection in older family members."

As far as santiation and the use of unsafe food goes, you will likely find Hong Kong to be equal to the best of western restaurants at the higher end (though the source of the food will always be a underlying concern) and equal to the worst of third world restaurants at the low end.

I expect you will find that the usual expectations apply in Hong Kong as in eat at clean looking, busy, modern establishments but you can't know what is going on in the kitchen.

If you want to see the official government line, go to:

www.fehd.gov.hk/events/pig_fake/index.htm

I'm not sure why they incorporated the word "fake" in the web address and there is, of course, no weblink for the reference to "spate of food safety and quality incidents" provided nor an explanation of what effect those incidents may have had on Hong Kong, if any.

If you really want to read about specific food items, see:

fehd.gov.hk/safefood/…index_3.html

Toronto, Canada
posts: 1,361
reviews: 34
2. Re: How safe is HK food

Safe is relative. Hong Kong imports a lot of its food from mainland China which means food comes from a notoriously polluted environment but the impact from those effects are likely longer term.

But your first concern will probably be from nasty bugs and such.

Start by reading the Canadian travel health advisories available at:

www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/236_e.html

Note in particular that "Hepatitis A is acquired indirectly through water or food contaminated with human feces. Inadequately treated water, or polluted fresh or sea water can cause infection. Shellfish, such as oysters and mussels, are frequently carriers. Milk, cold meats and other food contaminated during preparation can also be sources.

Hepatitis A is also transmitted directly through oral-fecal contact with an infected individual; though person-to-person exposure is unlikely when good hygiene practices (e.g., hand washing) are in place. Person-to-person transmission is particularly common between children, and between sexual partners. Children, who are frequently asymptomatic, are a major cause of infection in older family members."

As far as santiation and the use of unsafe food goes, you will likely find Hong Kong to be equal to the best of western restaurants at the higher end (though the source of the food will always be a underlying concern) and equal to the worst of third world restaurants at the low end.

I expect you will find that the usual expectations apply in Hong Kong as in eat at clean looking, busy, modern establishments but you can't know what is going on in the kitchen.

If you want to see the official government line, go to:

www.fehd.gov.hk/events/pig_fake/index.htm

I'm not sure why they incorporated the word "fake" in the web address and there is, of course, no weblink for the reference to "spate of food safety and quality incidents" provided nor an explanation of what effect those incidents may have had on Hong Kong, if any.

If you really want to read about specific food items, see:

fehd.gov.hk/safefood/…index_3.html

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong
posts: 6,965
reviews: 88
3. Re: How safe is HK food

Rob1 has given very informative posts regarding your concerns.

My advice on top of those replies is:

1) Don't drink anything that is iced, and don't drink the restaurant's water when dining out. You definitely do not drink from the taps of HK.

2) Eat only in restaurants that are filled with crowds. Lots of people, the more the better.

3) Do not eat from the street stalls no matter how appetizing it looks, and no matter HOW many people are lining up for it. Those foods from street stalls or hawkers are not for tourists' stomachs. Locals are trained for it and used to it.

4) Try to avoid uncooked items like salads, or cold appetizers.

Follow these rules, you should be FINE with whatever cuisine/foods you try in HK or anywhere else.

Singapore
posts: 99
reviews: 35
4. Re: How safe is HK food

How about those small little local Hongkong cafes? Is that ok too?

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
posts: 36,844
reviews: 77
5. Re: How safe is HK food

I never get any problems drinking iced drinks or eating in the small Chinese cafes. Having said that, I've lived here for many years and I'm probably conditioned to eating in this environment under the particular sanitary conditions. What Katetam said is probably right since some people are more sensitive to environment and diet changes so stick to what you feel is right and use your common sense. Believe me, I don't eat off the street stalls or go into places that look horrendous either.

Some foreign visitors that I do business with ask me about bird flussometimes. There is no concern at this point. You can draw the same analogy by somebody visiting the U.S. and Canada and say they don't want to eat beef because of mad cow disease, but meanwhile, you eat it all time and wonder what the big deal is! :-)

Toronto
Destination Expert
for Tokyo
posts: 18,667
reviews: 27
6. Re: How safe is HK food

- no raw oysters, sushi, sashimi (even if the place is crowded, or at 5* hotels)

- people always have upset stomache after having "hot lemon tea"... LOL

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong
posts: 6,965
reviews: 88
7. Re: How safe is HK food

Local Cafes (chinese western style cafes)..... are fine. Try to go to ones that are visually clean, and have lots of traffic in and out. One look at their floor, you should know how "clean" and "hygiene" this cafe and management of this cafe is. It doesn't guarantee, but it's a start.

Iced drinks are fine to us locals... of course and seasoned travellers..... trained already. However, the reason most people get sick during travellling (diarhhea and vomiting) anything related to the stomach is often due to the water consumed.

In tropical areas like HK, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, be aware during travelling in the summer months, try not to order anything "pre made" or marinated that is cold.... b/c of the hot weather, and humidity, many foods get stored or left in the open improperly, resulting bacteria overgrowth in the food..... the rest needs no explanation.

One more advice- order from their "specials" menus, those are ordered and consumed the most, guaranteed fresh and "less" chance of it being stored for a long time.

AND order what's Famous/well known from the restaurant....

If the place is well known for their beef brisket noodles, ordering a club sandwich wouldn't be as smart. Not necessarily health threatening, but I wouldn't do that.

Hope you have fun eating in HK... b/c it's truly a "food lovers paradise"

Bloomfield, NJ
posts: 27
reviews: 4
8. Re: How safe is HK food

If you're worried at all then don't do it. I have never had a problem with the food or drinks in Hong Kong. Eating from the stalls are really no worse than eating from street vendors in U.S. cities...

Toronto, Canada
posts: 35
reviews: 1
9. Re: How safe is HK food

Thanks everyone for your input you could have just saved me a large hassle.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
posts: 36,844
reviews: 77
10. Re: How safe is HK food

The bottomline is you should know your body: how sensitive are you to certain foods and drinks? If you don't feel comfortable, don't try it. Keep in mind you can't see what's happening in the kitchen anyway no matter what part of the world you are at so if the place looks clean and if the food looks ok, then there isn't a whole lot you can worry about. Just enjoy!

When I was living in the States, my friends who worked as waiters told me about the 3 second rule: if something falls on the floor and gets picked up within 3 seconds, it's considered clean. I suppose that's why another lady I knew back in my days in the US said she never ate out!