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Frozen berries recalled over hepatitis link
A second person in NSW has been diagnosed with hepatitis A after eating Nanna’s frozen mixed berries.
This comes one day after the Victorian Health Department issued a massive recall for one-kilogram packets of the frozen fruit, which has now been linked to five cases of hepatitis A – two in NSW and three in Victoria.
“An investigation by all health agencies is under way, but at this early stage we are not sure how many people may be affected,” director of NSW Health’s Communicable Diseases Branch, Vicky Sheppeard said.
“Given that Nanna’s mixed berries is a widely distributed product, there is the potential that others may be sick with hepatitis A now, or develop the disease over the coming weeks. ”
It can take between 15 and 50 days for hepatitis A symptoms to show. Symptoms include diarrhoea, fatigue, fever, nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and vomiting.
The NSW Health Department is urging people to be on the lookout for symptoms.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can spread through contact with food, drinks or objects with traces of faeces containing the virus. It is common in developing countries where hygiene is poor.
“It is important that if people have the symptoms of hepatitis they see their doctor for testing, especially if they have eaten this product in the last two months,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“They should also take steps to not spread the infection by careful handwashing and not handling food or providing personal care to others until they receive advice from their doctor.”
Nanna’s berries are packed in China and distributed in Australia by Patties Foods, a company based in Bairnsdale, Victoria.
Patties Foods has announced it is undertaking a nation-wide recall of the mixed berries with a best-before date up to and including November 11, 2016.
The company has advised consumers not to eat the product and return packs to the place of purchase for a full cash refund.
“A detailed testing process has commenced in conjunction with health authorities,” a statement from the company read.
“Patties Foods advises the voluntary recall is in the interests of consumer safety and that the health and wellbeing of consumers is paramount.”
Furious customers have complained about the lack of information available to them about what they should do if they have bought the product and where to submit claims for medical tests or seek refunds.
One customer contacting Fairfax Media said he tried to call Patties Foods all morning on Saturday but there was no answer.
“This beggars belief. A major health scare and Patties has gone home! If no one else us available, the CEO should man the phones,” he said.
“While Patties may be spreading the word through the press, this does not abrogate their responsibilities, including at law, to take all reasonable steps themselves to inform and assist affected customers.”
Another customer, Miles Carlier, said he ate the berries two weeks ago and has been presenting worrying symptoms.
“I have lost over five kilograms due to constant nausea, loss of appetite, fevers and abdominal pain. I have spent over $100 on doctors appointments and medication to stop the vomiting and now have to go back to the doctors to be tested for hepatitis A,” he wrote on the Nanna’s Facebook page.
“A refund for the product is not good enough! You have endangered the health, safety and wellbeing of me, my family and countless other people! You should be ashamed of yourselves!”