Frequently asked questions
When and where were the berries available for sale?
This batch of frozen mixed berries was distributed nationally in October 2016. The product was sold in independent stores such as Foodland & IGA stores.
Around 48,000 units were distributed with most sold by March 2017.
When did you first become aware of the hepatitis A cases?
The first illness associated with these berries was identified in South Australia on 4 May 2017. Food regulation and public health authorities have been investigating since this time to try and establish a definitive link between the cases and the product.
How can you be sure frozen berries are the cause?
While the evidence to date is limited it does suggest a possible link to the product.
Are these related to the last berry incident in 2015?
These cases have an identical sequence to that of the outbreak cases from the 2015 outbreak of hepatitis A. This product was not in the market at the time of the 2015 recall.
Upon receiving the consignment, the company (Entyce Food) tested the product for hepatitis A, E. coli and coliforms and all test results were negative.
Why weren’t the berries recalled sooner?
The relevant product was withdrawn by the company from distribution as soon as it became aware of a possible link. Public health and food enforcement authorities have been investigating further to ensure there is sufficient evidence to support a consumer level recall.
Why has the investigation taken so long?
Epidemiological investigations are sometimes lengthy. They involve extensive interviews with people affected and this is followed by traceback and testing. Testing for the hepatitis A virus is extremely difficult and takes time.
Are there likely to be more cases?
Authorities are monitoring all locally acquired cases of hepatitis A.
Given the small number of cases that have presented to date and the fact that most of the product has already been sold or destroyed it is unlikely that there will be a large increase in cases, although more cases can’t be ruled out.
Where are the berries from?
There are four berries in this product. Blueberries (sourced from Canada) and strawberries, raspberries and blackberries (sourced from China). The berries were packaged in China before being shipped to Australia and were repackaged in Melbourne.
Can you be sure that hepatitis A is only linked to this particular batch and brand?
Consumers should not be concerned about purchasing or consuming any other frozen berry brands or batches of Creative Gourmet product.
There is also no evidence of cases of hepatitis A associated with imported berries since border controls were put in place.
How do you monitor safety of frozen berries and what has been done since the 2015 incident?
An increased level of routine testing of frozen berries was introduced Australia-wide following the 2015 outbreak of hepatitis A associated with consumption of frozen mixed berries.
The Australian Government Department of Health monitors all locally acquired cases of hepatitis A.
In 2016, 144 cases of hepatitis A were notified across Australia. This compares to more than 18,000 cases of salmonellosis and 24,000 cases of campylobacteriosis. Hepatitis A infection resulting from contaminated food or water or from infected food handlers in Australia is rare. Cases are normally sporadic and acquired during overseas travel or from an infected person.
Many people with hepatitis A do not have obvious symptoms, particularly infants and young children who rarely show symptoms of infection.