Poor hygiene amongst Chinese workers as well as potentially contaminated water supplies in China are thought to be the likely causes of an outbreak of hepatitis A in Australia linked to frozen berries.
Five people — three in Victoria and two in New South Wales — have become sick with hepatitis A after eating Nanna’s frozen mixed berries, prompting a national recall of the one-kilogram bag product.
On Sunday the recall was extended to Creative Gourmet mixed berries in 300 gram and 500 gram packets because they were packaged in the same plant as the Nanna’s berries.
The berries were grown in China and Chile but repackaged in Bairnsdale in regional Victoria.
Patties Foods, the company who distributed the berries, said it was likely to cut ties with its unnamed Chinese supplier.
Dr Finn Romanes from Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the contamination had been traced back to China.
“The particular risk that we’ve identified here is that a country that has endemic hepatitis A, that is China, has been involved with packing these berries, sourced from both Chile and China,” Dr Romanes said.
“Clearly there’s strong evidence that there may have been a contamination during the packing process as they are fully sealed and then transported to Australia.”
It is not yet known what other food products the Chinese supplier produces for Australia.
Patties Foods managing director Steven Chaur said officials were acting as quickly as they could to address the problem.
“It is obviously very concerning to us,” he said.
“I myself, and my family, consume the product so I am equally concerned as consumers are, because I have bags of Nannas and Creative Gourmet in my freezer.
“We will certainly be working with the supplier to undertake a full review of how this may have occurred.”
This article originally appeared on the ABC and was republished here with full permission.