In order to better manage food safety risks, the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) continues to adjust the methods and proportion for random food inspections in response to different factors such as consumption trends in the food and beverage market and social concerns. Currently, more than 3,000 random food samples from the local market are inspected annually. This year, IAM even introduced the “mystery shopper” sampling method to obtain samples of food and beverage products and ready-to-eat food products for inspection through regular consumption and shopping. So far, more than 250 random samples have been inspected through this method to better understand the hygienic quality of the food sold in the market, so as to grasp and eliminate risks more promptly.
IAM continues to randomly collect various food samples for testing at the import and market levels for building “double lines of defence”, with more than 3,000 random food samples inspected at the market level annually. The “mystery shopper” sampling method has even been introduced this year, where food safety personnel will act as regular consumers and purchase food and beverage products and services whose state and quality are the same as what consumers have on a daily basis. The “mystery shopper” sampling method, which is different from the general random inspections of food and beverage products that require entry to back kitchens and processing and operational areas for hygiene inspection and sampling, provides a preliminary understanding of the final sale status of food products without interrupting the operation of the businesses and helps to grasp the actual situation and eliminate risks.
After obtaining the samples, IAM personnel will immediately properly preserve them and send them to the laboratory for testing. If the relevant samples fail to pass the test, IAM will again send staff to the food and beverage establishments where the samples with abnormalities were collected to carry out follow-up investigations and another testing of random samples according to the established procedures. Based on the degree of risks, a series of prevention and control measures will also be adopted in accordance with the “Food Safety Law” to prevent the spread of risks.
At this stage, the main target group of the “mystery shopper” sampling method are food and beverage establishments with a high flow of people that are popular among residents and tourists. So far, more than 250 random samples of food and beverage products have been inspected and tested for microbiological and other hygienic quality indicators, and no samples need to be further re-tested. IAM continues to adjust the “mystery shopper” sampling method and its target group according to actual needs in response to factors such as consumption trends in the food and beverage market and social concerns.
With regard to the food products sold in the market, IAM’s regular food safety supervision and random inspection work include the “general random inspection programme of food products sold in the market”, the “random inspection programme of food and beverage products” and the “random inspection programme of seasonal and festival food products”, with more than 3,000 random food samples being inspected annually. By introducing the “mystery shopper” sampling method, it is hoped that the food safety in Macao will be monitored comprehensively in more diverse forms, and that the food safety of consumers will be further safeguarded.