NZ recalls imported frozen berries

8 December 2015 | Fruzio's imported frozen berries have been recalled in New Zealand after being linked with four cases of hepatitis A.

Another berry recall

New Zealand authorities have recalled a range of frozen berries imported from China which were implicated in four human cases of hepatitis A.

The recalled frozen berries are only sold in New Zealand, under the Fruzio brand by FSL Foods. However, FSL Foods said on its website: "this is a recall of berries because they come from the same provinces in China that grew the fruit that was recalled in Australia earlier this year". 

Back in February, packets of frozen mixed berries, sold under the brands Nanna's and Creative Gourmet, both by Patties Foods, were recalled as health officials linked a number of cases of hepatitis A in Victoria and NSW to the consumption of the fruit.

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NZ takes precautions after Australian case

The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has said its investigations are ongoing and hasn't ruled out further recalls. Fruzio was directed by the MPI to recall its frozen mixed berries (strawberries and blackberries), but it's also recalled its individually packaged strawberries and blackberries as a precaution because they come from the same source. However, despite being linked to the outbreak, FSL Foods said that none of the Fruzio products have yet tested positive for hepatitis A.

Earlier in the year, Patties also tested 360 packets of its recalled frozen berries and said at the time they'd come back negative for hepatitis A. Despite this, 31 cases Australia-wide were epidemiologically linked to the consumption of Nanna's frozen mixed berries, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Patties drops berries

Since the Australian recall, Patties has discontinued its mixed berries lines and ceased sourcing fruit from the supplier in China that was implicated.

Patties also announced this week that it is exiting the frozen berry market altogether by selling its Creative Gourmet brand to Entyce Foods Ingredients and ceasing the sale of frozen fruit products through its Nanna's brand. 

New labelling on the way

Following the frozen berry recall in late February, the government put together a taskforce of ministers to present a country-of-origin labelling proposal to Cabinet. On 21 July, the government released the designs for the new country-of-origin labels.

The new labels are a big step towards ending the confusion around country-of-origin labelling, especially for consumers who want to know how much of a product was manufactured or grown locally. However, they're not perfect, and aren't very helpful in deciphering the origin of non-Australian ingredients.