October 05, 2016 – Frozen berries have been linked to more than 1,000 cases of hepatitis across 11 European countries, including Ireland, foods safety chiefs have warned.
Egypt’s Ministry of Agriculture is investigating the possibility that strawberries being exported to the United States, Asia and Europe are contaminated with Hepatitis A.
The advice is to boil all frozen imported berries before consumption as contaminated varieties could still be circulating, said the Food Safety Authority.
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The warning is part of new guidance to assist growers with the safe production of fresh produce on farms. It includes fresh fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, sprouted seeds, edible flowers and herbs.
It comes at a time when outbreaks of food-borne illness associated with fresh produce are increasing due to harmful bugs.
A lot is eaten raw so the bugs are not being removed by cooking, putting an onus on growers to ensure good practice.
Egypt exports 40 million tons of fresh and frozen strawberries to 30 countries in America, Southeast Asia and Europe.
In Egypt, the Health Ministry inspects strawberries and issues certificates stating they are ready for export. Egypt’s Union of Producers and Exporters of Horticultural Crops issued a statement Tuesday, casting doubt that the country is the source of the contamination.
Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus. Symptoms develop 15-50 days after exposure to the virus, which can occur through direct contact with another person who has the infection or by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated with the virus.