Both the Chinese Spring Lantern Festival and the Western Valentine’s Day fall on 14 February this year. This once-in-19-years encounter makes the day more romantic. On this day of dual celebrations, many lovers give chocolates to their other halves, or eat glutinous rice balls (a traditional Chinese sweet food made of glutinous rice flour) together to express their wishes and blessings. During purchase of chocolates and glutinous rice balls or preparation of homemade ones, it is important to apply food safety knowledge in order to enjoy the happiness and sweetness in this festive occasion.
To purchase prepackaged chocolates or glutinous rice balls, consumers should patronize a reputable shop. They should check whether the package is intact, and should pay attention to the expiry date and storage temperature. Chocolates with abnormal texture, such as with sign of mould, or glutinous rice balls that are melting or frosting, should not be purchased. If chocolates or glutinous rice balls are not consumed immediately after purchase, they should be properly stored according to the instructions on the label. Some people might choose to wrap the purchased prepackaged chocolates at home, so clean wrapping paper or boxes should be used to avoid contamination.
To prepare homemade chocolates or glutinous rice balls, consumers should go to reputable shops to purchase raw materials, such as cocoa powder, milk, glutinous rice flour, sesame and sugar, etc. The purchased raw materials should be put at proper temperature upon arriving home. One should pay attention to personal hygiene and thoroughly wash hands before the food preparation. Shape moulds or utensils should also be thoroughly cleaned before use. Food ingredients should be cooked thoroughly. Once made, chocolates should be properly packaged and glutinous rice balls should be consumed as soon as possible.
Although chocolates and glutinous rice balls are delicious, both of them are high in calories, fat and sugar. Over consumption of such food may lead to excessive calorie intake, fat accumulation, dyspepsia or other health problems. The public is advised to maintain a balanced diet, and patients with diabetes, hyperlipidemia and other chronic diseases should avoid eating or limit their consumption of such food.
Finally, we wish everyone a happy celebration!