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Victims of food-poisoning up to 149
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Eight more food-poisoning cases were reported in Macao by Tuesday afternoon, making the total number of victims amount to 149, according to the announcement from the Special Administration Region's (SAR) health authorities.

The SAR's Disease Control and Prevention Center of the Health Bureau (SSM) firstly announced the food-poisoning outbreak on Sept.3 the victims of which got sick after eating "problem raw oysters "served in buffet restaurants in three local hotels, namely Sands Hotel, Venetian Hotel, Golden Dragon Hotel, and the Macao Tower between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2.

The food poisoning victims included locals and tourists from Hong Kong and elsewhere, and the disease were reported to have been caused by the Norwalk virus which is communicable through food, vomit, excreta and among human beings, the SSM said earlier.

The problem oysters served in the four restaurants were provided by the Pearlwin Ltd., a Hong Kong-based supplier, according to the SSM, which has ordered the four restaurants to stop providing raw oysters at their buffets.

Some 1,560 boxes of oysters could be involved, including 420 boxes exported to Macao, 43 to Hong Kong and about 300 to other places, Hong Kong's Center for Food Safety (CFS) said, adding another 500 boxes were sealed for tests.

One of the distributors who bought oysters from Pearlwin said they were not meant to be eaten raw, the Hong Kong daily Mingpao reported Tuesday.

"The oysters were hard-frozen and must be cooked for consumption. I do not understand how people could sell it as fresh chilled oysters to Macao," the daily quoted a spokesman for the distributor as saying.

However, the SSM said in its announcement that, under local laws, the food suppliers and the restaurants have the same responsibility of making sure that the foods they provide to consumers are safe and bacteria-free, and if they violate the regulations, they may have to bear relevant legal liabilities.

(Xinhua News Agency September 10, 2008)

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