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HK McDonald's fined for excessive bacteria
Updated: 2004-08-11 17:23

A local unit of U.S. fast food giant McDonald's has been fined for selling ice cream with a bacterial count nearly five times the permitted level _ reportedly the company's third such recent breach of food safety rules in Hong Kong.

During a routine check in May, health officials found that an ice cream sundae from a McDonald's outlet at Victoria Peak, a popular mountaintop tourist spot, had a bacterial count of 240,000 per gram (8,400 per ounce), said Food and Environmental Hygiene Department spokeswoman Emily Mak.

The permitted limit is 50,000 per gram (1,750 per ounce), she said, adding that anything exceeding this level may cause the consumer to suffer diarrhea. Mak said she didn't know of any cases of food poisoning connected to that McDonald's outlet.

McDonald's Restaurants (Hong Kong) Ltd. pleaded guilty Tuesday to selling ``substandard frozen confection'' in the Eastern Magistrates' Courts and was fined 3,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$385), according to a court document obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday.

Health inspectors found excessive amounts of E. coli _ a potentially fatal bacteria _ in ice cream sundaes at two other McDonald's outlets in Hong Kong in December 2002 and November 2003, Ming Pao Daily News reported Wednesday.

The report said health authorities also prosecuted McDonald's for those violations.

Mak couldn't confirm that report and McDonald's Hong Kong didn't immediately respond to a faxed query from the AP.

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