Further Recall of Fruzio Frozen Berries in New Zealand
- November 20 – The Ministry of Health informs MPI of a potential link between the four cases of Hepatitis A to consumption of food.
- November 30 – MPI’s investigation progresses to the point where it identifies a risk of Hepatitis A associated with imported frozen berries. MPI issues a statement advising consumers of the risk, and plans to increase its surveillance and testing of imported frozen berries product.
- December 2 – MPI institutes testing of imported frozen berries at the border as part of a wider surveillance program. It continues investigations into the genetic makeup of the virus and an examination of the supply chain.
- December 3 – MPI receives new genetic evidence about the virus and a continued examination of the supply chain allows MPI to direct FSL Foods to recall its Fruzio mixed berries product.
- December 4 – FSL Foods opts to voluntarily recall further products to provide extra assurance to its customers.
FSL Foods is extending its recall of frozen berries sourced from Shandong Province, China, which are believed to be linked to four cases of Hepatitis A. In addition to 1-kilogram and 500-gram plastic bags of Fruzio brand IQF mixed berries containing strawberries and blackberries, the Nelson, New Zealand-based company is now recalling 1-kg mono bags of strawberries and blackberries, as well as its three-berry combination of blackberries, strawberries and blueberries.
“Our investigation is still ongoing, and we are not able to rule out further recalls,” said Peter Thompson, director of New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). “We understand that this has been difficult for FSL Foods, and would to again thank them for their full cooperation in this recall.”
The products, which have “use by” dates ranging from September 8 to November 17, 2018, were distributed to Pak’n Save, New World, Four Square and Gilmours retail stores throughout the nation. As most of the fruit was sold into the market some time ago, it has likely already been consumed.
Meanwhile, MPI’s advice about all other imported frozen berries stays the same. Consumers should wash their hands before eating and preparing food. Anyone who is concerned should briefly boil any imported frozen berries before eating them, or ensure cooking exceeds 85 degrees Celsius for one minute.
Elderly persons and those with chronic liver damage should avoid imported frozen berries that have not been heat-treated.
"We have no idea how it's happened. We are talking about a very small subset of many hundreds of tons of fruit that we deal with every year,” said FSL Foods owner Mike Glover. "We've dealt with the supply chain for the last seven or eight years and we've probably been supplied in the region of 3,000 tons over that period of time, or three million units."
In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Glover said he wanted to "express apologies to the people that have been ill and for our customers out there to understand that we believe that at all times we are putting safe products in front of them. This has been a devastating blow to us all."
The MPI’s investigation timeline over the past two weeks has been as follows:
For additional information, call the Ministry of Health's Healthline at: 0800 61 11 16.