New Zealand Food Safety has advised people not to consume a brand of unpasteurized, raw fruit juice as the company behind the products was not registered.

The agency said it had become aware of an unregulated manufacturer and seller of raw fruit juice. Without controls during processing, pathogens can enter the product making it unsafe, particularly for children, those who are old, pregnant or have reduced immune systems.

Recalled juice from Our Fruit Box has limited labeling or branding and may be sold in 20 liter plastic containers labeled ‘OFB’ and in unlabeled bottles of different shapes and sizes.

Current information suggests the juice was sold through informal sellers, door-to-door through businesses, local markets and on the firm’s website. Products are available in various flavors and are advertised as being available frozen, partially frozen, or defrosted. There have been no reports of associated illness to date.

Vincent Arbuckle, New Zealand Food Safety’s deputy director-general, said the juice had not been through the required checks to make sure it was safe to consume.

“The company making these juices has not been registered under the Food Act, so consumers cannot be certain that risks have been properly identified and managed,” he said.

“The product is a raw fruit juice and for that reason food safety controls are crucial. Without proper controls during processing of food, pathogens can enter the product. If you have bought this product – either labelled OFB or Our Fruit Box, or with limited or no identifying labelling or branding – do not consume it and throw it out.”

Recent outbreaks
Meanwhile, unrelated Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, histamine, and norovirus outbreaks were recorded in the country in February.

A Campylobacter outbreak in Canterbury involved 12 people. Cases were part of a group of visiting foreign students attending a course at a local institution. Unpasteurized milk consumed at a dairy farm was identified as the likely source.

An outbreak of Clostridium perfringens affecting five people was reported from the Capital, Coast and Hutt Valley district. Patients attended a private lunch at a restaurant. The source was partially precooked lamb which was reheated at the venue.

Two outbreaks of histamine (scombroid) fish poisoning occurred in the Auckland region, involving seven cases. Sick people had eaten kahawai at two separate restaurants. Both incidents were linked to the same supplier.

An outbreak of norovirus was reported from the Whanganui district with 277 cases. Patients were students and staff from two schools which share the same campus. Illness was associated with lunch at the cafeteria but investigations to find the source are ongoing.

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