At least 14 people in Australia have been sickened in a Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen berries. The illnesses have been linked to two brands of frozen berries: Nanna’s Frozen Mixed Berries and Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries, both distributed by Patties Foods in the state of Victoria. The following products are subject to recall:
- Nanna’s Frozen Mixed Berries in one-kilogram bags with best-before dates up to Nov. 22, 2016
- Nanna’s Frozen Raspberries in one-kilogram bags with best-before dates up to Nov. 22, 2016
- Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries in 300-gram bags with best-before dates up to Dec. 10, 2017
- Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries in 500-gram bags with best-before dates up to Oct. 6, 2017
The 14 known illnesses are spread across in the following Australian states: New South Wales (5 illnesses), Queensland (5), Victoria (3) and Western Australia (1) Patties Foods is taking heat in the Australian media for sourcing berries from faraway countries such as China, Turkey and Chile, instead of domestically, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The chief executive of Patties Foods told the Herald that raspberries are the common ingredient between the recalled packages and could likely be the source of the infections. Schools and childcare centers are reportedly on alert for Hepatitis A cases after serving the recalled berries to children, and many consumer advocates are urging Australian lawmakers to strengthen country-of-origin labeling laws. Healthcare centers around the country are reporting a spike in the number of people coming in with concerns about Hepatitis A infection. Frozen berries have been linked to numerous Hepatitis A outbreaks around the world in recent years. In 2013, frozen berry mixes from Townsend Farms sold at Costco stores sickened at least 162 people with Hepatitis A in the U.S. The contamination was ultimately traced back to pomegranate seeds in the mix that were sourced from Turkey. Also in 2013, frozen berry mixes sickened at least 1,444 Europeans with Hepatitis A. Hepatitis A is a communicable disease that spreads via the “fecal-oral route.” Food-related outbreaks are usually associated with food contaminated during cultivation, harvesting, processing or distribution. Symptoms of Hepatitis A infection may include fatigue, diarrhea, stomach cramps, dark urine and jaundice. Approximately 10 to 12 days after exposure, symptoms may begin to appear, and Hepatitis A is present in an infected person’s blood and is excreted into their feces. If someone is exposed to Hepatitis A but receives a vaccine within two weeks, they may significantly reduce their chances of experiencing symptoms. In general, symptoms of Hepatitis A infection usually last less than two months, although relapse is not unknown. Unlike chronic forms of Hepatitis, such as B and C, individuals with Hepatitis A infections typically recover. Once a person has recovered from a Hepatitis A infection, they are immune to the virus.