Frozen berries that come from New Zealand – all brands and varieties – pose a risk of spreading hepatitis A. Four people have fallen ill after consuming either frozen strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or boysenberries, which are now all being investigated by the Ministry of Primary Industries.
Currently there is no recall for berries from New Zealand, but there is a “potential risk” on all brands and types of frozen berries from the country. If you’re concerned about your health, are a senior or have liver disease, it is recommended that you opt for berries from other countries for the time being.
If you do have berries from New Zealand, you can boil them at 85 °C for one minute before consumption, but keep in mind that they won’t taste the same after doing so. Simply washing them will not reduce the risk of hepatitis A.
In February of this year Australia saw an outbreak of hepatitis A, and the brands were recalled. In that scenario berries were fresh and ready to eat, not frozen.
Hepatitis A is a virus that affects the liver. It can be spread through food or water that has been contaminated. Symptoms of hepatitis A may not display immediately and can take several days or even months to show. Symptoms may be confused with the flu and include fever, jaundice, poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dark urine and fatigue.
Unlike hepatitis B or C, hepatitis A does not cause liver disease and is rarely fatal. Although it can take a person a long time to recover, recovery is possible.