More cases of Hepatitis A have been confirmed in Queensland due to contaminated frozen mixed berries, which were grown in one of China’s most polluted areas.
Brisbane residents have been warned to remain on the lookout for Hepatitis A symptoms after a number of new cases have been confirmed in Queensland due to a contaminated batch of frozen berries.
There are now five confirmed cases of Hepatitis A in Queensland linked to the recalled Nanna’s frozen berries, with the fifth person located in Brisbane. Unfortunately, health experts have warned that this latest round of confirmations is not the end of the contamination.
The following Patties Foods products have been recalled as part of this investigation:
- Nanna’s Mixed Berries 1kg bag. All batches up to and including Best Before 22/11/16.
- Nanna’s Raspberries 1 kg bag. All batches up to and including Best Before 15/09/2016.
- Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries 300g (all batches up to and including Best Before 10 12 17) and 500g (all batches up to and including Best Before 06 10 17).
It has been confirmed that the frozen berries recalled from Australian supermarkets freezers were grown and packed in one of China’s most polluted provinces. Only five per cent of fruit and vegetables imported into Australia are subject to any testing — but even those few tests do not check for the bacteria that leads to Hepatitis A.
As a result of the growing number of infections, The Red Cross Blood Service has imposed a two-month blood donation ban on people who have eaten berries linked to the health scare, in a bid to prevent the infection from spreading further.
Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has revealed Australian authorities failed to test imported frozen berries for possible diseases despite similar Hepatitis A outbreaks in Europe.
Mr Joyce said he had been given a report from his department that confirmed the frozen berry imports were not tested.
“I got a report back from my department this morning and I am reading that this morning,” Mr Joyce told the Nine Network.
Mr Joyce said Food Standards Australia and New Zealand may have to test all frozen berry products to ensure the Hepatitis A outbreak isn’t wider than first thought.
He also took the opportunity to urge consumers to buy local.
“There is a good way that you can avoid all of this and that is to make sure you eat Australian product,” he said.
“I want to make sure I do everything in my power to say to people your safest food is your domestic food. That is why you pay a premium for Australian product. It is clean, green and healthy.”
Mr Joyce also backed stricter labelling for imported food “that clearly identifies unambiguously, as soon as you pick up a package, whether it is from our country with our strong… sanitary requirements”.
“That is making sure that faecal contamination, which is a very polite word for poo, is not anywhere near your food, not going to be put in your mouth,” he added.
Ten people have now presented with Hepatitis A, with eight confirmed Queensland cases, as the list of recalled frozen berry products continues to grow.
Queensland Health Communicable Diseases Unit Senior Director Dr Sonya Bennett said all the currently reported Hepatitis A cases were linked with the Nanna’s Mixed Berries brand purchased from Coles, Woolworths, IGA and other independent supermarkets.
“While there is no specific treatment for hepatitis A, most cases fully recover and there are usually no long term effects as a direct result of infection,” Dr Bennett said. “Symptoms of hepatitis A include abdominal pain, nausea, fever and chills, tiredness and lethargy, and yellow skin or eyes.”
Dr Bennett said these symptoms usually show up between 28-30 days after infection, but they can take up to 50 days.
“Only a small minority of people who consume the berries will become infected,” she said.“However, hepatitis A can be a serious condition if untreated and I urge anyone who has developed symptoms to contact their GP or 13 HEALTH.”
Hepatitis A is spread when traces of faecal matter containing the virus contaminate hands, objects, water or food and is then taken in by mouth. If a person has infectious hepatitis A, they can easily spread it to others in the household. Correct handwashing is essential to limit the spread.
People with hepatitis A should not return to work, school or child care until they are no longer infectious which is at least seven days after the onset of jaundice.There is a safe and effective vaccine that provides protection against hepatitis A infection for children and adults.
Anyone experiencing symptoms should contact their GP or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).