The contamination of two Patties frozen berry brands with hepatitis A has been traced back China, where the berries were grown.
According to ABC News, poor hygiene amongst Chinese workers as well as potentially contaminated water supplies in China are thought to be the likely causes of an outbreak of hepatitis A in Australia linked to frozen berries.
Five cases of hepatitis A linked to the product are confirmed in New South Wales and Victoria, prompting a national.
Patties Foods initially advised consumers not to eat Nanna’s Mixed Berries on Friday, announcing the recall on Saturday and extending it to the Gourmet Mixed brand on Sunday.
The national consumer recall is for:
- Nanna’s Mixed Berries 1kg, All Batches up to and including Best Before Date 22/11/16
- Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries 300g, All Batches up to and including Best Before Date 10/12/17
- Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries 500g, All Batches up to and including Best Before Date 06/10/17
The berries came from China and Chile and were distributed by Patties Foods, which is based in Bairnsdale, east Victoria.
Patties Foods, the company who distributed the berries, said it was likely to cut ties with its unnamed Chinese supplier.
Dr Finn Romanes from Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the contamination had been traced back to China.
"The particular risk that we've identified here is that a country that has endemic hepatitis A, that is China, has been involved with packing these berries, sourced from both Chile and China," Dr Romanes said.
The recall follows advice from the Victorian Health Department of potential Hepatitis A contamination and an investigation is continuing with state and national health authorities.
Patties has increased staff and extended the opening hours of its consumer hotline to between 7am and 9pm, until further notice.
Patties Foods MD & CEO, Steven Chaur, said “while our quality control testing to date has not revealed any concerns with the food safety of either product, further detailed testing is being done and the recall is an important step to ensure public safety and confidence.
“We have decided that all our frozen Mixed Berries should be recalled until such time as we receive the results of further laboratory tests,” Chaur said.
Grocery customers have been advised to remove the product from sale, and Consumer Recall advertising is being conducted in national daily newspapers. Patties Foods advises consumers not to eat the product, and return packs to the place of purchase for a full cash refund.
All other Nanna’s, Creative Gourmet and Patties Foods products remain unaffected by this recall.
Mark Smith, Patties chairman said in a statement it is too early at this stage to ascertain whether the product recalls will have any financial impact on the company and if so, whether that impact will be material. This aspect is also being monitored and the market will be informed promptly and without delay if there are any material developments.