These popular berries are in many families’ freezers – but if they’re in yours, get rid of them as soon as you can. Victorian company Patties Foods has recalled two of its products after they were linked to at least five cases of hepatitis A.
Victoria’s Department of Health first issued a health warning about 1kg packets of Nanna’s Mixed Berry (or Berries, depending on the packaging) on Saturday morning. A few hours later, Patties Foods announced a national recall of the product and ordered it off supermarket shelves.
It came after three Victorians and one person in New South Wales were diagnosed with the hepatitis A, with the frozen berries the only common link. Patties says packs of Nanna’s Mixed Berries with a best-before date up to and including November 22, 2016, should not be eaten.
This afternoon, Patties Foods extended the recall to 300g and 500g packets of Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries as a “precaution”. A fifth person, from New South Wales, has now been diagnosed with the viral infection. Patties Foods chief executive Steven Chaur says it has recalled the second brand until it receives the results of laboratory tests.
The berries came from China and Chile before being distributed in Australia. The virus is spread when it enters the mouth, which can happen when hands, foods or other objects are contaminated with the faecal matter of a person with hepatitis A. The virus, which affects the liver, is resistant to heating and cooling.
The New South Wales health department says it is not sure how many others may be affected given the berries were widely distributed. People can become ill 15 to 50 days after catching the virus, and anyone who has consumed the berries in the past 50 days is advised to watch out for symptoms.
Better Health Channel advises that symptoms include fever, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and yellow skin and eyes. While symptoms may last several weeks, infected people usually recover fully. Relapses happen in about 10 per cent of cases and while complications are rare, if the infection turns into fulminant hepatitis it can cause liver failure.
“It’s quite infectious and readily spread from person to person, that’s why its important people are aware of it now so that if they are in the early stages of the illness they can take steps to prevent spreading it to others,” says Dr Vicky Sheppeard, of NSW Health’s Communicable Diseases Branch.
The berries are mostly sold in Woolworths, Coles and IGA supermarkets. Anyone with concerns should phone Patties Foods on 1800 650 069.