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Hepatitis A cases in New Zealand linked to frozen berries

Staff writer |
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources said it is aware that New Zealand authorities are looking into four recent cases of hepatitis A and possible sources of contamination.

While the source of infection has not been confirmed, the investigation has identified a particular brand of imported frozen berries as a possible source.

The identified product has not been exported to Australia and the department is not aware of any Australian cases linked to the current situation in New Zealand.

New Zealand authorities have so far identified that the products currently being investigated are made from berries imported from a number of different international suppliers.

As a precaution, the Australian Government has applied holding orders to all imports of frozen berries from the identified suppliers—even though we are still working to determine if those suppliers do in fact export products to Australia.

This means that any consignment of frozen berries from those suppliers would be held at the border, sampled and tested for the presence of E.coli as an indicator of processing hygiene.

The department will continue to work with New Zealand authorities on this matter—as well as with Food Standards Australia New Zealand and the Australian Government Department of Health.

Australia introduced stronger border testing requirements for frozen berries from all countries on March 16, 2015 in response to the hepatitis A incident in Australia at that time, and these testing requirements are still in place.

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