The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) says it is investigating a food poisoning outbreak of the Hepatitis A virus linked to the consumption of imported frozen berries.
As a precautionary measure, the FSAI is advising people to boil all imported frozen berries for at least one minute prior to eating.
It says 10 cases ten cases of Hepatitis A virus have been identified in Ireland and half of these cases have been linked to the consumption of imported frozen berries.
At this stage of the investigation, there is no evidence to suggest that fresh Irish or fresh imported berries are implicated, the FSAI said.
There is currently an outbreak in Italy of the same strain of Hepatitis A virus as that identified in Ireland, and this is is also linked to the consumption of imported frozen berries.
Prof Alan Reilly, Chief Executive of the FSAI, said boiling imported frozen berries for at least one minute before they are eaten will destroy the virus if it is present.
“The source of this outbreak is not known yet, but all indications are pointing towards imported frozen berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackberries and strawberries. At this stage of the investigation, there is no evidence to suggest that fresh Irish or fresh imported berries are implicated.”
“Therefore, as a precautionary measure, we are advising consumers to boil all imported frozen berries for at least one minute before eating them to destroy the virus. Also we remind consumers to wash all fresh berries, and other fruit and vegetables if eating them uncooked,” Prof Reilly said.
Hepatitis A can be relatively mild, lasting, one to two weeks or in more severe cases, lasting a number of months.
Severity of symptoms tends to increase with age. The most common symptoms are fever, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue and abdominal pain, followed within a few days by jaundice. The incubation period (time from exposure to onset of illness) ranges from 15 to 50 days, the average being 28 days.
The FSAI says its investigation is ongoing and is focused on tracking and tracing foods consumed by those infected with the virus to endeavour to identify the source.
Consumers with food safety queries can visit www.fsai.ie or call the FSAI’s Advice Line on 1890 336677.