Berry tests go on the backburner
TESTING of frozen berries will not be increased following the hepatitis A scare this year because an inquiry found they remain a low-risk food.
Thirty-four Australians became ill with hepatitis A in an outbreak linked to Nanna’s frozen berries imported from China.
The Food Standards Australia New Zealand established a review into the low-risk rating it applies to the food that determines the testing regime at the border.
The FSANZ review reported yesterday and determined that berries were a low-risk food for Australian consumers.
It found there was no need to change the risk or testing status of the berries.
“The risk statement concluded that, hepatitis A virus in RTE (ready to eat) berries produced and handled under good agricultural practices and good hygienic practices is not a medium to high risk to public health,” the FSANZ said in a statement.
The Department of Agriculture carries out food testing at the border but the number of times it tests a food is guided by the risk rating FSANZ attaches to the food.
Low-risk foods are subject to only very occasional testing.