Frozen berries to be screened
Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, and Assistant Health Minister, Fiona Nash, released an update on the federal government’s response to the issue on Tuesday.
“This 100 per cent testing will include testing for Hepatitis A indicators,” they said.
The government said all frozen berries from the Chinese factories in question were immediately held as soon as the Hepatitis A issue came to light.
It also said Food Standards Australia New Zealand had upgraded the suspect frozen berries to “medium risk”.
“Berries from these facilities are subject to 100 per cent testing at the border,” the statement said.
Testing of berry products linked to the Hepatitis A outbreak was being carried out and early results were due this week.
“Australian officials from our Department of Agriculture are on the ground working with the Chinese authorities on this matter,” it said.
“The Department of Agriculture has also sought information on supply chains from all importers of frozen berries from China.”
The Chinese Government had also inspected and carried out tests at the packing facility implicated in the outbreak, according to the statement.
Meanwhile. the Australian Red Cross Blood Service says people who ate the berries can now give blood, “so long as they are not sick”.
The official update comes after revelations on Monday that not all imported frozen berries were being checked by Australian authorities, despite concerns of a broader hepatitis A outbreak.
Only berries linked to the processor at the centre of the controversy, Patties Foods, are subject to inspection and testing.
A second processor in NSW has been ordered to hold back its imports from distribution.
Eighteen people have so far been diagnosed with hepatitis A linked to imported frozen berries, a week after a nationwide recall was issued for a range of products.