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07/07/18: Reports of frozen strawberries, pomegranate causing Hep A outbreaks

downloadTwo outbreaks of Hepatitis A virus infections associated with packed frozen strawberries and frozen pomegranate arils occurred during the second quarter of this year, according to international food safety statistics.

The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), which is managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO), detailed the Hepatitis A outbreaks in its quarterly report. The group of national authorities said the outbreaks involved countries across three regions.

“The current outbreaks serve as a reminder of the ongoing risk of spreading HAV (Hepatitis A virus) through frozen fruits and the challenges associated with their prevention and control,” said INFOSAN.

From April through June the INFOSAN Secretariat was involved in 16 international food safety events involving 32 WHO Member States, three associate WHO Member States and six areas/territories of WHO Member States. There were also 16 events was the same number of incidents that the network was involved in for the first quarter of this year.

There were 13 notices in Q2 involving biological hazards:

  • Salmonella seven notices;
  • E. coli two notices;
  • Hepatitis A two notices; and
  • Unspecified microbial hazard two notices.

INFOSAN reported there were two events from chemical hazards in 2Q, one involving heavy metals and the other involving mycotoxins. There was one notice regarding undeclared peanuts, which is a known allergen.

Salmonella, Hepatitis A and undeclared peanut allergen notices were also reported by the network in Q1 2018.

Food categories involved in Q2 outbreaks included cereals and cereal-based products, fruit and fruit products, herbs, spices and condiments, snacks, desserts and other foods with two notices each. There were also outbreaks associated with eggs and egg products, fish and other seafood, foods for infants and small children, legumes and pulses, milk or dairy products, nuts and oilseeds and sugar and confectionery, all with one notice.

In April, the INFOSAN Secretariat presented on the outbreak of Salmonella agona infections in France linked to Lactalis infant formula at the International Association for Food Protection’s (IAFP) European Symposium on Food Safety in Stockholm, Sweden.

In May, INFOSAN staff participated in the 11th Global Microbial Identifier meeting on the impact of whole genome sequencing (WGS) on global health and microbiology in Geneva, Switzerland.

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