Cases of Hepatitis A lower than last year

Australia has had less cases of Hepatitis A this year, compared with this time last year, despite the outbreak linked with the imported frozen berries.

There have now been 65 cases of hepatitis A in Australia this year. This time last year there were 81 cases.

As at 11:00 on 17 Mar 15, according to the Department of Health there were 27 cases of Hepatitis A linked to frozen berries: 12 in QLD, eight in NSW, three in Vic, two in WA, one in ACT and one in SA.

All 27 cases have reported eating Nanna’s frozen mixed berries during their period of acquisition (15-50 days prior to the onset of symptoms). No other common exposure has been determined and this strong epidemiological association is further strengthened by genotyping.

The risk of contracting hepatitis A from eating frozen berries is estimated to be very low noting there have been only 27 cases to date despite berries being a commonly consumed food.

Four products have been recalled, but only the Nanna's Mixed Berries product has been epidemiologically linked with the outbreak. The other products have been recalled as a precaution.

The product is packed in China, containing raspberries, strawberries and blackberries grown there, and blueberries. The blueberries in the product were initially thought to have come from Chile, however, the Department of Health is now advised by the company that they were sourced from Canada.

Recalled products:

  • Nanna's Mixed Berries 1kg pack, with a best before date up to and including 22/11/16.
  • Nanna's Raspberries 1kg pack, with a best before date up to and including 15/09/16.
  • Creative Gourmet's Mixed Berries 300g pack, with a best before date up to and including 10/12/17.
  • Creative Gourmet's Mixed Berries 500g pack, with a best before date up to and including 06/10/17.

The recall has prompted calls for tougher country of origin labelling rules and for an independent review of Australia’s imported food safety regime.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called upon Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to prepare a submission for cabinet on country of origin labelling by the end of March.

100 percent screening also now applies to frozen berries from factories in China linked to the Australian Hepatitis A incident.


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