Imported berries withdrawn from Australian shelves amid Hepatitis A scare

February 16, 2015 2:18 pm 

CANBERRA, Feb. 16 — Frozen mixed berries grown in china and Chile were removed from Australian supermarket shelves on Monday after they were linked with Hepatitis A cases reported in Victoria and New South Wales.

Australian company Creative Gourmet has also ordered a recall of its 300g and 500g frozen berries packs, following news on Saturday that fellow local-owned product Nanna's mixed berries had been linked with the disease.

Both Nanna's and Creative Gourmet source their berries from china and Chile, but distribution for the products is based at Patties Foods headquarters in Bairnsdale, Victoria.

A fifth case of Hepatitis A was discovered in New South Wales on Sunday.

CEO Steven Chaur of Patties Foods, the parent company to both Nanna's and Creative Gourmet, issued a statement Monday, saying " We have decided that all our frozen mixed berries should be recalled until such time we receive the results of further laboratory tests."

"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 endeavors to make sure we get back to everybody with the right information at the right time."

The statement detailed that quality control, up to the point of recall, had not revealed any concerns with any of the products and that "further detailed testing is being done and the recall is an important step to ensure public safety and confidence."

Meanwhile, health authorities expressed concerns about Hepatitis A spreading throughout the affected areas as this disease is contagious.

"So far we've had two people (in NSW)…in the weeks to months before they developed Hepatitis A had consumed these berries and they're coming from different parts of the state, so we're concerned this might be a more widespread problem," Dr. Vicky Sheppeard from NSW Health's Communicable Diseases Branch said.

"The incubation period for Hepatitis A is between two and seven weeks, so at this stage it's an early stage of the investigation and we're still gathering information about how much of the product is in NSW homes but potentially we will be seeing more cases in the coming weeks." (PNA/Xinhua)

FFC/EBP

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