Seven people hospitalised with hepatitis A, several Pams frozen berries recalled

There are currently 12 cases in the community linked to the consumption of frozen berries.
There are currently 12 cases in the community linked to the consumption of frozen berries. Photo credit: Pams

Foodstuffs is recalling six Pams branded frozen berries as a precaution following an outbreak of hepatitis A.

There are currently 12 cases of the disease in the community linked to the consumption of frozen berries, seven of whom have been hospitalised.

New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) is investigating the source of hepatitis A and urging Kiwis to "heat treat" all frozen berries in the meantime. 

The recalled berries are as follows: 

  • Pams Frozen Mixed Berries 500g
  • Pams Frozen Two Berry Mix 1kg
  • Pams Frozen Two Berry Mix 750g
  • Pams Frozen Smoothie Berry Mix 500g
  • Pams Raspberries 500g
  • Pams Raspberries 350g.

The recall will see the six Pams products pulled from supermarkets across the motu, including at New World, PAK'nSAVE and Four Square. Trents and Raeward Fresh stores in the South Island will also be removing the products. 

NZFS deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle is encouraging Kiwis to check their freezers for the berries. 

"See if they have any of the recalled products. People who have these products at home should not eat them raw. Bringing them to the boil will make them safe, or they can be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund."

Arbuckle added the situation is ongoing but wants consumers to "exercise care and take extra precautions". 

He added hepatitis A remains relatively rare in Aotearoa. 

"The 12 cases linked to frozen berries account for half of the reported cases in the country so far this year."

The recall notice comes after NZFS' ongoing investigation found 12 confirmed cases of hepatitis A had reported eating a range of berries.

Symptoms of hepatitis A:

If you've caught hepatitis A, it will take 15 to 50 days for the symptoms to develop.

Early symptoms of hepatitis A infection can be mistaken for the flu. The usual symptoms are nausea and stomach pain, with jaundice (yellow skin) appearing in a few days. Some people, especially children, may have no symptoms at all.

As the illness develops, the symptoms are:

  • fever
  • jaundice (yellow discolouration of the eyes and/or skin)
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • abdominal discomfort
  • malaise (fatigue, feeling tired)
  • dark urine.

NZFS' advice:

  • Briefly boil frozen berries before eating them, or if you have a thermometer at home, ensure cooking temperatures exceed 85C for 1 minute. Heated berries can be safely refrozen for later use.
  • If you microwave berries, you should stir at halfway through the cooking process to make sure they are cooked through. Microwave settings will vary, the important thing is to ensure the berries reach boiling.
  • Wash your hands before eating and preparing food.