ALMOST one in 10 soft ice-creams have been found to contain potentially harmful bacteria, health inspectors warned yesterday. Most of the infected confections were found in convenience stores and caused by poor handling procedures, a spokesman for the Health Department said. 'Milk products and frozen confections are prone to contamination. Improper handling procedures will lead to unsatisfactory results,' he said. Advisory letters had been sent to the shops and the manufacturing factories reminding them to follow proper procedures when preparing soft ice-cream. Department of Health tests had found nine per cent of soft ice-cream samples infected by bacteria, almost all from convenience stores. According to a second quarter report released by the Department of Health yesterday, 60 out of 670 samples of soft ice-cream showed excessive levels of bacteria. The department has not received any public complaints of poisoning as a result of infected ice-cream but an excessive count of bacteria could lead to intestinal disorders or diarrhoea, said the spokesman. 'You cannot tell from the appearance of an ice-cream whether it is bacteria-infected or not. 'So the consumers are advised not to go to those convenience stores which do not look very clean. 'And if necessary, do complain to the Urban or Regional Services Departments,' he said. A worker in a Mongkok convenience store said her shop had been requested by the department a few weeks ago not to sell soft ice-cream. 'The inspectors said our old machine failed the hygiene standard . . . But we have since replaced it. 'We clean and disinfect the machine every midnight and dump the leftovers. 'That's why we don't sell soft ice-cream after midnight.' Meanwhile the number of people who suffered from food poisoning soared 70 per cent in the second quarter. A total of 51 cases of food poisoning have been reported from April to June. The number of people affected shot up to 446, from 261 during the same period last year. Two massive outbreaks in June affecting 207 people were the main cause for the surge. More than 150 diners at a New Territories restaurant were poisoned by inadequately cooked food. Fifty-one people from a home for the elderly fell ill after eating contaminated mango pudding. The spokesman said people should thoroughly re-cook but not re-heat left-overs. 'A re-heat alone is not enough. There will be a risk,' he said. The number of food poisoning cases is expected to reach a high level next quarter after more than 500 people suffered from a food poisoning incident at the United Christian Hospital last month.