Frozen pomegranates have been blamed for a hepatitis A outbreak in NSW. Seven locally acquired cases have been linked to imported products sold in Coles supermarkets. Three further cases are currently being investigated.
NSW Health issued an official warning on Friday (April 6), advising consumers to avoid eating Coles-bought frozen pomegranates.
On Saturday it confirmed a precautionary recall of the Creative Gourmet-branded frozen fruit, after genetic testing revealed a unique strain of Hepatitis A in those affected, all of whom had eaten the product.
“Consumers with this product in their freezers should not consume it and should return the product to the place of purchase for a refund,” NSW Food Authority CEO Dr Lisa Szabo said in a statement.
Symptoms of hepatitis A take 15 to 50 days to develop and may include nausea, vomiting, fever and yellowing of the skin, dark urine and pale stools.
The viral liver infection can spread in contaminated food or through poor hygiene.
“Those who have consumed the product in the past two weeks may benefit from hepatitis A vaccination, if not already protected,” Dr Vicky Sheppeard, director of communicable diseases at NSW Health said in a statement
Entyce Food Ingredients also issued a statement on Saturday identifying its product Creative Gourmet Frozen Pomegranate (180 grams), with a best-before-date up to and including March 21, 2020, as the potential culprit.
It confirmed the “precautionary recall of a relatively small batch” of the frozen pomegranate on its website, and will offer full refunds.
The cases confirmed so far include adults and children living in Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong.
“Fresh pomegranate has not been implicated, nor have Australian grown frozen pomegranate products,” Dr Szabo said.