The Food Safety Authority has re-issued advice to boil frozen berries due to a hepatitis A threat that has been identified in the foods. A similar alert was issued last year, after there was an outbreak of the disease across Europe. Despite investigations, no single point of origin of the contamination was found.
The FSAI stated that it initially grew concerned that several cases of Hepatitis A had been reported over the summer which they could not attribute to overseas travel. Around 1,440 cases of inexplicable Hepatitis A have been reported in twelve different European countries since the original warning last year. 331 cases had been confirmed by genotyping techniques, and 21 of those occurred in Ireland.
The chief executive of the FSAI-Professor Alan Reilly-ensured to comment that the cases of Hepatitis A was due to berries imported into the country, and not berries grown here. He did urge people to remember that although fresh berries were not a Hepatitis A threat, they should still be washed thoroughly before consumption.
Professor Reilly also encouraged those working in the catering industry to check the source of their berries, ensuring that they are reputable suppliers with comprehensive food safety management systems in place.
The National Virus Reference Laboratory, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and the Health Service Executive are all collaborating with the FSAI to track the source of the infected frozen berries, and cross-reference their findings with a similar investigation in Italy.
Due to the incubation period of fifteen to fifty days, victims of the disease may have eaten contaminated berries prior to the FSAI’s warning, and before affected retailers and the opportunity to remove the products from their shelves. In spite of this, the retailers and manufacturers all have a duty of care to supply goods which do not pose a threat to the health of those who consume them. If you-or anyone you know-have suffered from Hepatitis A due to eating the contaminated fruit, you should seek legal counsel regarding a compensation claim.