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Faeces could be behind Hep A outbreak

A spokesperson for the Victorian Health Department said anyone who had bought the berries was advised to immediately throw them away.
A spokesperson for the Victorian Health Department said anyone who had bought the berries was advised to immediately throw them away. Supplied

CHINESE workers' faeces could be behind the Hepatitis A outbreak linked to imported frozen berry packages.

Food health and safety expert Professor Enzo Palombo said it was likely an infected person spread the virus via their faeces, which then contaminated food or water.

"The virus either directly contaminates the food though a food handler not washing their hands properly or it could come from contaminated water used to wash the berries," he said.

Three people in Queensland, two in New South Wales and three in Victoria have been struck down after eating some Nanna's frozen mixed berries. The produce has been linked to imported frozen berries from China.

Queensland Health's Dr Sonya Bennett said she expected to see more cases.

Meanwhile, AUSVEG has called for stronger measures to prevent public health scares, such as stronger testing of imported produce and clearer country of origin labelling laws.

Prof Palombo said only heat and cooking the berries would kill the virus in frozen food.

But Food Safety Information Council Lydia Buchtmann has advised against cooking the berries and suggested people return them or throw them out.

"A few people have asked if they could be cooked, which would technically kill a virus, but this shouldn't been done because of risks in handling the product," she said.

- APN NEWSDESK

Topics:  berries hepatitis a


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