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Ireland’s Advice: Boil and/or Wash the Hepatitis A Berries – Two Worldwide Outbreaks?

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSIA) recommends that until further notice the public should boil all imported frozen berries before consumption. Boiling for at least one minute will destroy the virus. We also remind consumers to wash all fresh berries, and other fruit and vegetables if eating them uncooked.

Friday, the FSAI updated the foodborne outbreak of Hepatitis A virus. 10 cases of Hepatitis A all belong to genotype 1A. Italy is also currently experiencing an outbreak of Hepatitis A infection involving genotype 1A. At the start of year the Italian outbreak appeared to be restricted to the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano in northern Italy, however, it is now recognized to be a nationwide outbreak. The Italian authorities have detected the Hepatitis A virus in four frozen mixed berries products. The types of berries involved were raspberries, redcurrants, blackberries and blueberries. The frozen berry mix originated from Italy, with raw berry material sourced from various countries.

As of the 5th July 2013 a total of 59 confirmed cases and 103 probable cases of Hepatitis A infection were identified in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. The cases of infection in these countries were caused by Hepatitis A genotype 1B. Frozen strawberries sourced in Egypt and Morocco are the most likely source of food causing the outbreak. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 150 people across eight States have been confirmed ill from Hepatitis A genotype 1B. Illness has been linked to eating a frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix. Data from their epidemiological investigation suggests the most likely source of the Hepatitis A virus appears to be a common shipment of pomegranate seeds from a company in Turkey. The outbreak strain, genotype 1B is rarely seen in the United States but circulates in the North Africa and Middle East regions. A 2012 Hepatitis A outbreak of genotype 1B in British Columbia is related to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt.

  • J T

    1 minute does not seem long enough to thoroughly cook through to the center of a frozen berry. Any bacteria can easily infiltrate to the inside of the fruit through the stem scar or any other blemish at the farm. If the inside of a confirmed contaminated fruit is not thoroughly cooked, you are at risk.