Hepatitis A and frozen berries

There is currently an outbreak of Hepatitis A associated with the consumption of frozen berries. 

New Zealand Food Safety is advising consumers if eating frozen berries to minimise the risk of Hepatitis A. As investigations are still ongoing, it is still recommended that consumers follow the precautions outlined on the MPI website regardless of the brand of frozen berries.

Foodstuffs Own Brands Ltd has initiated a consumer-level recall for specific varieties of Pams brand frozen berries sourced from Serbia. Details of the recalled products are available on the MPI website.

Latest update

24 November 2022

Since 28 June 2022, 28 locally-acquired cases of hepatitis A have been linked to the current outbreak. This includes two new cases in the past week. Of all cases, 12 (43%) were hospitalised.

Of all cases, 26 have an identical or very similar sequence profile, which indicates they likely came from the same source. Sequencing for the remaining two cases is pending.

Of these New Zealand cases, 25 have reported consumption of uncooked imported frozen berries. Three cases with the outbreak sequence profile did not report consuming berries and are likely due to secondary transmission.

New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) advises that testing of leftover berries from the home of one of the cases linked to the outbreak has revealed the presence of Hepatitis A. NZFS will be considering this new data point alongside all the other evidence gathered to date.

It’s important to note that, although this result supports the recall and assumption that Serbian berries are implicated in the current outbreak, on its own it is not enough to be absolute about the source of outbreak.

In the meantime, NZFS advice to consumers is to consider heat treating frozen berries to kill any potential pathogen.

More information, including details of the products under recall

Previous updates

16 November 2022

Since 28 June 2022, 26 locally-acquired cases of hepatitis A have been linked to the current outbreak, including one new case in the past week. Of these New Zealand cases, 24 have reported consumption of uncooked imported frozen berries.Two cases from Hawke’s Bay with an identical outbreak sequence profile did not report consuming berries and are being further investigated.

Twenty-five cases are genotype IA and all have identical (or near identical) sequence profiles in the region analysed. Sequencing for 1 berry-associated case is pending.

10 November 2022

Since 28 June 2022, 25 locally-acquired cases of hepatitis A have been identified as linked to the current outbreak. This includes two new cases in the past week. Of these New Zealand cases, 24 have reported consumption of uncooked imported frozen berries. One case with an identical outbreak sequence profile did not report consuming berries and is being further investigated.11 (44%) cases were hospitalised.

Of all New Zealand cases, 22 have an identical or very similar sequence profile, which indicates they likely came from the same source. Sequencing for the remaining three cases is pending.

3 November 2022

Since 28 June 2022, 23 locally-acquired cases of hepatitis A associated with frozen berry consumption have been identified, including two in the past week. All New Zealand cases have reported significant consumption of uncooked imported frozen berries. 11 (48%) cases were hospitalised.

Of all New Zealand cases, 17 have an identical sequence profile, which indicates they likely came from the same source. Sequencing for the remaining 6 cases is pending.

27 October 2022

Since 28 June 2022, 21 locally-acquired cases of hepatitis A associated with frozen berry consumption have been identified, including three in the past week. All New Zealand cases have reported significant consumption of uncooked imported frozen berries. Nine (43%) cases were hospitalised.

Of all New Zealand cases, 17 have an identical sequence profile, which indicates they likely came from the same source.

20 October 2022

Since 28 June 2022, 18 locally-acquired cases of hepatitis A associated with frozen berry consumption have been identified, including three in the past week. All 18 New Zealand cases have reported significant consumption of uncooked imported frozen berries. Nine (50%) cases were hospitalised.

Of the 18 cases, 14 have been sequenced to date, and all 14 have have an identical sequence profile, which indicates they likely came from the same source.

13 October 2022

Since 28 June 2022, 15 locally-acquired cases of hepatitis A associated with frozen berry consumption have been identified, including three in the past week. All 15 New Zealand cases have reported significant consumption of uncooked imported frozen berries. Seven (47%) cases were hospitalised.

Of the 15 cases, 11 have an identical sequence profile, which indicates they likely came from the same source.

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