Nine Australians have contracted hepatitis A infection after having eaten contaminated berries imported from China. Manufacturer of Patties Foods expressed apology and have recalled four products including the Nanna's and Creative Gourmet brands of mixed berries and Nanna's raspberries after the infection scare in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.
These products having been packed in China are sold nationally in major supermarkets. Experts believe that poor hygiene among Chinese workers and potentially contaminated water supplies in China are likely to have caused the outbreak. The hepatitis A cases are linked with Nanna's Frozen Mixed Berries. But, the other three other brands are pulled off shelves as a precaution.
Rosemary Lester, chief health officer in Victoria state, said, "Hepatitis A virus infection is uncommon and normally associated with travel to countries affected by endemic hepatitis A. The only common link between the cases is consumption of this product, there is no overseas travel or common restaurant exposure."
Enzo Palombo, a food health and safety expert at Swinburne University of Technology, said, "In this situation, the most likely culprit is poor hygiene at the site of production. Hepatitis A is transmitted by the so-called 'fecal-oral' route, an infected person sheds the virus in their feces which then contaminates food or water. The virus either directly contaminates the food through a food handler not washing their hands properly or it could come from contaminated water used to wash the berries."