About half of surveyed retailers found storing frozen food in open containers Food retailers are risking public health by continuing to sell frozen meat from open, non-refrigerated containers, the Consumer Council warned yesterday. The council found that 29 of 59 retailers it surveyed were selling frozen meat from open boxes, plastic containers and baskets placed outside stores. Food and Environmental Hygiene Department regulations stipulate that all frozen foodstuffs must be stored in refrigerators until purchased. 'The frozen meat on display was left exposed without proper refrigeration,' said council public relations chairman Matthew Ng. 'It is not surprising that almost all the frozen meat sold in such conditions showed early signs of thawing or was completely thawed. Some even had bloody water seeping out of the containers,' Dr Ng said. 'Because it is not in a refrigerator, the meat's quality will degrade faster and you risk being poisoned if it is not cooked properly,' he added. The department said it placed a high priority on the condition of chilled and frozen meat being sold to the public. 'Health officials conduct regular inspections and blitz operations to the stalls concerned,' a spokeswoman said. 'Should irregularities be spotted, immediate action will be taken.' Possible courses of action include warnings, prosecutions and the revocation of vendors' licences. 'Chilled or frozen meat should be kept in refrigerators until sold or it will constitute a breach of food licensing conditions, which could lead to the cancellation of licences,' the spokeswoman said. She said the department would promptly investigate any allegations of retailers failing to comply with the regulations. The Consumer Council has already passed on the names and addresses of shops found to be breaking the law. Since last November, the department has tightened regulations covering breaches of licence conditions. Under the new measures, licences may be revoked if vendors are served with three written warnings within a six-month period. It is also considering a further tightening of the regulations and will submit its recommendations to the Legislative Council within the next few months.