Bird Flu returns to Hong Kong

22 Dec 2011

The discovery of the deadly H5N1 bird flu in a dead chicken on Tuesday resulted in the government halting supplies of live chickens from wholesalers for three weeks and ordering a cull of those already delivered (estimated at 17,000).

Dr Ho Pak-Leung, director of the University of Hong Kong’s microbiology department said in a newspaper article that the government’s prompt action was appropriate to contain a potential outbreak. He added that eating cooked chicken is “unlikely to cause bird flu.”

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific contacted some of the city’s leading hotels to ask what they were doing to reassure guests.

A spokesperson for InterContinental Hong Kong said, “As always, our top priority is to ensure the health and well being of our hotel guests and employees. We maintain the highest standards of food and environmental hygiene at our hotel. In addition to these stringent standards, we have taken precautionary measures to allay concerns that any of our guests may have regarding the avian flu situation in Hong Kong.” 

These measures include importing poultry and poultry-related products from non-affected countries only such as USA, Europe and Australia that are sourced from reputable and reliable suppliers accredited by the relevant authorities. In addition, the hotel ensures a high level of hygiene and sanitation at all times to minimise any possible spread of any flu infection in general.

The Island Shangri-La’s spokesperson said, “We immediately coordinated with our purchasing team for the delivery of chilled chicken. The health and safety of guests and staff is the highest priority for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. Our comprehensive and stringent food safety management system is enforced at all properties. These measures include purchasing of chicken products solely from government certified suppliers, and chicken, where served, is always cooked above 70°C.”

The Grand Hyatt meanwhile has switched to using chilled chicken from China.

According to the World Health Organisation (WTO), “The majority of human cases of H5N1 infection have been associated with direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead poultry. There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly cooked food.”

For more information from the WTO click here.  

Click here for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s guide to the prevention of Avian Influenza.

Vicki Williams

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