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Reminder to be careful with frozen berries after three deaths in Swedish nursing home

An outbreak of norovirus in Sweden was linked to imported frozen berries.

Image: frozen berries image via Shutterstock

THE FOOD SAFETY Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has reiterated its warning to consumers about imported frozen berries after an outbreak of norovirus in Sweden killed three people and berries were linked to cases of Hepatitis A in Australia.

At the beginning of this month, 70 people in a Swedish nursing home became ill with norovirus and microbiological analysis confirmed that imported frozen raspberries from Serbia were the source of the outbreak. It resulted in the deaths of three elderly people from the home.

Despite food safety advice in Sweden, the frozen imported raspberries were served uncooked in a dessert.

In Australia, imported frozen berries have also been linked to an outbreak of Hepatitis A which caused more than 30 people to become ill during February and March this year.

The FSAI has again advised people in Ireland to boil all frozen berries that have been imported for at least one minute before consumption. This advice was first issued in Ireland in 2013 after an investigation found cases of Hepatitis A were linked to frozen berries. Since then, over 1,000 cases have been reported in 12 EU countries.

Following a European-wide investigation the source of the outbreak was never confirmed, however batches of frozen berries from twelve food operators were linked to cases of illness in five of the countries affected.

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Boiling the berries will destroy the virus if it is present and Dr Lisa O’Connor, Chief Specialist in Food Science, said this is particularly important when serving food to vulnerable people such as nursing home residents.

“While fresh berries have not been linked to these outbreaks, we remind consumers that – as with all other fruit and vegetables – they should always be washed thoroughly if they are being eaten uncooked.

“Frozen imported berries are widely used in the food industry and distributed into the food service sector for use in cooked and ready-to-eat dishes. Therefore, food businesses using or selling imported frozen berries need to ensure that the berries they use are sourced from reputable suppliers operating effective food safety management systems and comprehensive traceability systems.”

Read: Be careful with frozen berries or you could get hepatitis, warns food watchdog>

Read: More than half of you wash raw chicken and that’s really dangerous > 

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