Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is seeking public comment on an urgent amendment to the Food Standard Code to protect public health and safety.

The proposed measures would require traceability and processing requirements of semi-dried tomatoes and ingredients. The amendment would apply in Australia only.

Last November Australian health authorities advised people to avoid eating semi-dried tomatoes unless they were thoroughly cooked.

The warning followed the investigation of locally-acquired cases of Hepatitis A, for which there was an association with consumption of semi-dried tomatoes. Most cases occurred in Victoria.

At the time, the Victorian Government put in place short-term measures to protect public health and safety and these measures are about to expire.

The proposed national measures would ensure that sufficient records are available to respond effectively in the event of a future outbreak, and that any hepatitis A virus is destroyed in semi-dried tomatoes or in the tomatoes used in semi-dried tomatoes.

More information can be found in Proposal P1012 Semi-dried tomatoes and ingredients – traceability and processing (initial consideration report).

A copy of the report can be found on the FSANZ website.

The deadline for comments is Feb. 1, 2010.