MPI caution - potential Hepatitis A in some fruit

Date:
Media contact: MPI Media Phone
Telephone: 029 894 0328

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is cautioning New Zealand consumers of a small quantity of fresh fruit sold in late February and early March that there is a relatively low risk that this fruit had been contaminated with Hepatitis A virus.

MPI Deputy Director General Scott Gallacher says it is important that consumers understand the risk of transmission of the virus is relatively low, but MPI is issuing this information as a precaution so that people with any related concerns about their health can contact their doctor.

“As always, MPI is placing the health and wellbeing of all consumers first.

“We have been advised that a person packing some varieties of apples and peaches in a Hawke’s Bay packhouse has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A.

“This worker handled Royal Gala and New Zealand Beauty apples and Golden Queen peaches over a four day period while they would have been infectious. Hepatitis A virus can remain infectious on the surface of fruit for some months and transmit infection to other handlers and consumers.

Mr Gallacher says while some potentially affected fruit has been traced and withdrawn from sale, it is expected that approximately 1400 cartons have been sold, with fruit either consumed or still in some people’s homes.

Mr Gallacher says all fruit involved in this case was for domestic New Zealand supply and has not been exported.

The fruit concerned was on sale between 27 February and 13 March 2014 at the following outlets.

Royal Gala apples from:
All Countdown supermarkets in the North Island.
The following Christchurch retailers - G Morris and Son, Fresh Connection, United Fresh, Edgeware Supervalue.

Golden Queen peaches from:
All Countdown supermarkets in the North Island.
Pak n Save, New World and Four Square supermarkets from Taupo to Kaitaia.

The following Auckland retailers –  Dahua Supermarket (Albany), Lim Chour (K-Road), Fruit World Pioneer Plaza (Henderson), Manukau Fresh Fruit and Vege, Fresh for Less (Henderson), Save Fruit and Vege Shop (Manukau), Green Field Fruit and Vege (Green Bay), New Lynn Fresh.

Also Fresh World in Hawera.

New Zealand Beauty apples from:
All Countdown, Fresh Choice and Super Value supermarkets in the South Island.

The Ministry recommends people who bought potentially affected fruit between 27 February and 13 March 2014 to either cook the fruit well before eating, or if in doubt, throw it out.

“The possibility of infection is relatively low, but along with the Ministry of Health, we advise anyone who becomes ill with the following symptoms contact their doctor. Look out for skin jaundice (yellowish tinge), yellowing of the whites of eyes, dark coloured urine and pale bowel motions. Early signs of Hepatitis A are fever, loss of appetite, stomach pains and nausea.

More information

If you are concerned about your health or the health of others, seek advice from your medical practitioner, or you can call the Healthline (0800 611 116) or PlunketLine (0800 933 922).

Key points:

  • Some Royal Gala and New Zealand Beauty apples and Golden Queen peaches sold in New Zealand between 27 February and 13 March may have been contaminated with the Hepatitis A virus.
  • The fruit concerned was on sale between 27 February and 13 March 2014.
  • Royal Gala apples from: All Countdown, Fresh Choice and Super Value and supermarkets in the North Island.
  • Golden Queen peaches from: All Countdown, Fresh Choice, Super Value and supermarkets in the North Island. Pak n Save, New World and Four Square supermarkets from to Taupo to Kaitaia
  • New Zealand Beauty apples from: All Countdown, Fresh Choice and Super Value supermarkets in the South Island.
  • Risk of infection as a result of handling or eating this fruit is very low.
  • Symptoms to look out for are: skin jaundice (yellowish tinge), yellowing of the whites of eyes, dark coloured urine and pale bowel motions. Early signs of Hepatitis A are fever, loss of appetite, stomach pains and nausea.
  • Contact your doctor if you have these symptoms – particularly jaundice.
  • This fruit has only been sold in New Zealand. It has not been exported.
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