Queenslanders have been warned to avoid frozen berries that have been recalled following a hepatitis A scare.
UPDATE: Queensland Health have confirmed four Queenslanders have contracted Hepatitis A from Nanna’s frozen mixed berries, which have already struck down four people interstate.
Senior director of Queensland Health’s Communicable Disease Unit Dr Sonya Bennett said two of the cases were in Brisbane’s south, another in the Metro North health district and another one in Cairns. She also said that we should expect to see even more cases in relation to this contamination.
EARLIER: Three people in Victoria and two in New South Wales have fallen ill with hepatitis A after eating the mixed berries, prompting a nationwide recall of the product.
The recall has been extended to Creative Gourmet mixed berries, because they are distributed from the same plant as Nanna’s berries in Bairnsdale, east Victoria.
Dr Finn Romanes from the Victorian Health Department has today confirmed the outbreak has been traced back to China, where the frozen berries in question originally come from.
“Clearly there’s strong evidence that there may have been a contamination during the packing process as they are fully sealed and then transported to Australia,” Dr Romanes said.
Queensland’s chief health officer, Jeannette Young, has encouraged Queenslanders to give the berries a wide berth.
“We are encouraging people to follow advice from the Victorian Department of Health which identified possible links between the product and several cases of hepatitis A in Victoria.
“The product has not been conclusively linked to any cases of hepatitis A in Queensland but we are continuing to monitor the situation.”
Patties Foods has been criticised for their response to the outbreak, but say they are working hard to address concerns.
“I know consumers are a little bit frustrated with us at the moment in relation to the speed at which we’re responding but we are using our best endeavours to make sure we get back to everybody with the right information at the right time,” managing director Steven Chaur told the ABC.
Earlier, Patties Food released a statement that said quality control testing had not revealed any concerns with the safety of their products so far, but “further detailed testing is being done and the recall is an important step to ensure public safety and confidence”.
The statement said the berries “should be recalled until such time as we receive the results of further laboratory tests”.
Consumers should avoid eating from the Nanna’s one-kilogram packets with best-before dates up to and including November 22, 2016, from the Creative Gourmet 300 gram packets with best-before dates up to and including December 10, 2017, and from the 500 gram packets with best-before dates up to and including October 6, 2017.
The berries are most commonly sold in Woolworths, Coles and IGA supermarkets.
Hepatitis A is spread by traces of faecal matter containing the virus, which can contaminate hands, objects, water and food. It can be prevented by vaccination.
Symptoms of hepatitis A commence two to seven weeks after exposure. Anybody experiencing these symptoms — such as abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite, fever and chills, dark urine, pale stools, diarrhoea and yellow skin or eyes — should contact their GP or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).