Authorities in an Australian state have linked eight Hepatitis A patients to imported clams.

The New South Wales (NSW) Food Authority advised consumers who bought salted or pickled clams from Koryo Food Co. or Byul Mi Kim Chi to destroy any remaining product or return it to the place of purchase for a refund.

Koryo Food Co. and Byul Mi Kim Chi recalled the items because of the potential link with hepatitis A from the salted or pickled clams imported from South Korea.

Authorities in South Korea recently warned domestic consumers to avoid certain types of salted or pickled clams due to a link with hepatitis A infection. Australian grown clams are not implicated in the outbreak.

Awaiting confirmation
South Korea, where hepatitis A is usually rare, is experiencing a large outbreak with more than 11,000 cases reported this year.

Lisa Szabo, NSW Food Authority CEO, said testing was underway on a number of products but results may take several weeks.

“Although a contamination has not yet been confirmed, we have advised the companies of a potential link to eight cases of hepatitis A in NSW, and they have both undertaken a recall of the product,” she said.

“We want to ensure all consumers who may have these products are aware of the possible link between the product and hepatitis A. While the affected products have been recalled from participating retailers, consumers may still have product they have already purchased in their fridges.”

Byul Mi Kim Chi salted clams

Koryo Food Co. is recalling pickled clams sold at independent Korean and Asian Grocery Stores in New South Wales. The 180-gram pack has use by dates of Nov. 19 and Nov. 28, 2019.

Byul Mi Kim Chi salted clams come in a 150-gram plastic container and were sold at Korean Grocery Shops in New South Wales with a best before date ranging from Oct. 31 to Dec. 31, 2019.

Previous warning

Last month, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Health Directorate and NSW Health revealed they were investigating a cluster of hepatitis A infections in the South Korean community.

Eight adults of South Korean heritage have been affected since June. Most did not have recent overseas travel and lived in South Eastern Sydney, Northern Sydney, and Western Sydney.

The ACT Health Directorate reminded anyone traveling to South Korea of the importance of vaccination prior to travel and good hand hygiene to reduce the risk of spread.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver and is usually spread by consuming contaminated food or water or by direct contact with an infected person.

Symptoms include feeling unwell, tiredness, fever, nausea, lack of appetite, abdominal discomfort, and joint pain, followed by dark urine, pale stools, and jaundice (yellowing of the eyeballs and skin).

Illness is usually mild and lasts one to three weeks. Small children who become infected usually have no symptoms. The period between exposure to the virus and development of symptoms is usually four weeks but can range from two to seven weeks.

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