Happy mid-autumn festival! I’m sure you’ve all done the required corporate handout of hundreds of over-wrapped mooncakes, yes? Perhaps even tried a couple? Well, in case anyone was wondering, they are actually a safe food to eat. The excellent resource Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety tested a wide range of moon cakes from 30 suppliers, and found no evidence of abnormal chemicals or bacteria.
However, they do want to stress that many are high in sugars and fat, so eat in moderation, especially diabetics. And, as always, they use the opportunity to remind people of the Five Keys of Food Safety, even with mooncakes:
First, choose. We should purchase mooncakes from reliable and hygienic retail outlets. Although mooncakes are presented in elegant packaging nowadays, we must check carefully their packages, expiry dates and whether there is any unusual appearance during purchase. Choose mooncakes within their expiry dates and in proper packaging. If we make mooncakes ourselves, we should purchase fresh and wholesome ingredients from reliable and hygienic shops. Also, we should not eat mooncakes with abnormal appearance, colour or taste.
Second, cook. If we bake traditional mooncakes ourselves, make sure that the mooncakes are cooked thoroughly.
Third, clean. Before handling and enjoying mooncakes, good personal hygiene should be maintained. We should wash our hands with running water and soap.
Fourth, safe temperature. When purchasing mooncakes, we should pay attention to their storage temperature. Ice-cream mooncakes should be kept in a freezer at -18 ℃ or below while snowy mooncakes should be kept in a chiller at 4 ℃ or below. Also, it is important to keep mooncakes at safe temperature after purchase, especially snowy and ice-cream mooncakes as they should be consumed as soon as possible or stored in refrigerator at appropriate temperature. Similarly, do not leave unfinished traditional mooncakes at room temperature for a prolonged period of time, store them in a cool dry place or according to the instructions on the package. When taking snowy or ice-cream mooncakes outdoors for moon appreciation parties, it is better to keep them in a cool box at appropriate temperature and consume them as soon as possible.
Fifth, separate. Mooncakes, like all other ready-to-eat food, should be stored in containers with lids and placed in the upper compartment of a refrigerator, while raw food should be put in the lower compartment to prevent cross-contamination.
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