PDF printable version of Media Update - Hepatitis A in Frozen Berries - 18 February 2015 - 1pm (PDF 78 KB)
The Australian Department of Health is coordinating a national health response to the current cases of locally acquired hepatitis A virus infection reported in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and WA.
Hepatitis A is not a life threatening disease and most people recover with rest and fluids. However, it may cause severe illness in young children, older people and in immunosuppressed people
Hepatitis A is spread via food and water, including ice that is contaminated with faecal matter from infected people. Practicing good hand hygiene and avoiding food preparation while ill are the most important factors in preventing further cases.
As at Midday 18 February there are 13 cases nationally, 3 in Victoria; 4 in New South Wales, 5 in Queensland and 1 in WA.
Consumption of Nanna’s brand frozen mixed berries has been linked to the cases of Hepatitis A in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and WA. The parent company, Patties, issued a nationwide voluntary recall on Friday 13 February and a subsequent precautionary recall on Sunday of Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries 300g and 500g packs and on Monday of Nanna’s brand frozen raspberries 1 kg, which are not associated with illness but are packed in the same factory.
The product is packed in China, containing raspberries, strawberries and blackberries grown there, and blueberries from Chile. The source of the hepatitis A virus is still unconfirmed. However, the berries are the only common exposure for all cases.
Anyone who has eaten the recalled frozen berries and feels unwell should consult their GP.
Hepatitis A can be transmitted via blood products, so if people are confirmed with hepatitis A infection, they should not donate blood until given further notice by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS).
Australia has a well-deserved reputation for a safe and clean food supply.
Action has been taken quickly by regulators and industry to withdraw any potentially affected product from retail.
The Commonwealth Department of Health has issued information on its website for GPs, patients and consumers.
The Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand are working with State and Territory health authorities and the food industry to resolve this public health issue.
The OzFoodNet, the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia, the National Food Safety Network the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the National Blood Authority and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) continue to meet and investigate.
Media contact: Kay McNiece, NIR, Department of Health, 0412 132 585