Frozen pomegranate recalled over hepatitis A fears

Supermarket giant Coles has recalled a brand of frozen pomegranate pieces amid reports that several people have been diagnosed with hepatitis A after consuming the product.

NSW Health and the NSW Food Authority are said to be working with Entyce Food Ingredients over the recall of its Creative Gourmet Pomegranate Arils (180g) imported from Egypt, with the best before dates up to and including 21/03/20.

NSW Health has revealed that at least seven people in the state diagnosed with cases of hepatitis A had all recently consumed the frozen pomegranates purchased from Coles supermarkets.

Those affected by the outbreak are based in Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong.

NSW Food Authority CEO, Lisa Szabo, attempted to reassure consumers about the safety of other, locally-produced pomegranate products.

“This outbreak appears to be linked to imported frozen product. Fresh pomegranate has not been implicated, nor have Australian grown frozen pomegranate products,” Dr Szabo said.

“Consumers with this product in their freezers should not consume it and should return the product to the place of purchase for a refund.”

Director of Communicable Diseases at NSW Health, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said it is working to confirm if the infection can be conclusively linked to the frozen pomegranate product sold at Coles.

“Symptoms of hepatitis A take from 15 to 50 days to develop. It is caused by a virus that spreads in contaminated food or through poor hygiene,” Dr Sheppeard said. “Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, fever and yellowing of the skin, dark urine and pale stools. In most people the symptoms resolve after a few weeks with supportive treatment, mainly rest and fluids.”

Those who have consumed the frozen pomegranate are being told to speak with their doctor as early as possible if symptoms appear.

‘Exercising abundant caution’

The company behind the product concerned insists the health and safety of consumers is “of paramount importance”.

Creative Gourmet released a statement on its website stating: “All product tested to date has been cleared and has not revealed a link to hepatitis A. Recognising any concern that may exist in the community, we are exercising abundant caution by activating this voluntary recall immediately.”

The company further added that “consumers can be confident that the recalled product is an isolated one and no other Creative Gourmet products are affected”.

Entyce Food Ingredients, the parent company of Creative Gourmet, has also said that the recall affects less than one per cent of the Creative Gourmet fruit sold annually in Australia.

Meanwhile Coles has issued an apology to those affected by the virus outbreak, urging consumers to return the product concerned to its supermarkets for a full refund.

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