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HEPATITIS A WARNING ON FROZEN POMEGRANATE SOLD AT COLES: ONE WOLLONGONG CASE CONFIRMED

April 09, 2018

Wollongong MP Paul Scully has urged Illawarra residents who have purchased frozen pomegranate at Coles in recent weeks to return them to the supermarket chain or throw them away – after a Wollongong resident contracting hepatitis A has been linked to consuming them.

 

“Hepatitis A can cause permanent liver damage so it is better to be safe than sorry,” Mr Scully said.

 

Mr Scully made the call after NSW Health confirmed that seven people – including one resident in the Illawarra – had contracted hepatitis A after eating frozen pomegranate from Coles supermarkets – sold as Creative Gourmet Frozen Pomegranate by Entyce Food ingredients.

 

In total, there have been seven confirmed cases in Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast.

 

NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has also joined Mr Scully in calling on the Berejiklian Government to restructure the NSW Food Authority as an independent statutory body – reporting directly to the Primary Industries Minister rather than through the bureaucracy –after this week’s hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen pomegranate and this year’s Listeria rock melon contamination.

 

http://www1.health.nsw.gov.au/IDD/#/hepa/period/%257B%2522prDisease%2522%253A%2522hepa%2522%252C%2522prLHD%2522%253A%2522X730%2522%252C%2522prReportPeriod%2522%253A%25223%2522%252C%2522prStrain%2522%253A%2522Not%2520specified%2522%252C%2522prFrom%2522%253A%25221%252F2014%2522%252C%2522prTo%2522%253A%25224%252F2018%2522%257D

 

The company is recalling all imported pomegranate products with the best-before dates up to and including March 20, 2020.

 

http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/news/Pages/20180406_01.aspx

 

Hepatitis A is an acute infection (short-term but often severe) that causes inflammation of the liver.

 

NSW Labor said there were concerns expressed that there were “competing demands” within the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the responsiveness of the Berejiklian Government to the recent contaminations.

 

“It is time for a shake-up within the Department of Primary Industries – especially in regard to how they respond to food contaminations. It is simply too slow,” Mr Secord said.

 

During the Listeria contamination, NSW Labor expressed concerns about the “timeliness” of the issuing of a community warning/alert on contaminated rock melons – which took place up to six weeks after the first case was reported.

 

Mr Secord said that taking the NSW Food Authority out of the DPI cluster arrangements and allowing it to report directly to the Primary Industries Minister would allow the organisation to provide “advice and warnings without fear or favour”.

 

As part of the Listeria contamination, there have been six deaths – three in NSW and three in Victoria. Nationally, there have been at least 19 cases of Listeria confirmed – as well as a miscarriage.

 

Mr Secord said: “These events have shown that the NSW Food Authority has lost the presence and status it once held.”

 

This was also about protecting the “clean, green image of NSW produce locally and overseas” – which is worth $113 billion and generates $5.1 billion in exports.

 

The NSW Food Authority was set up in 2004 as a statutory authority within DPI. Presently, the CEO of the Food Authority, a position referenced in the Food Act 2003 reports to the Deputy Director General of Primary Industries (Biosecurity and Food Safety), who reports to the Director-General, who reports to the Secretary of Industry.

 

NSW Labor wants the NSW Food Authority to report directly to the Minister – to give the authority a direct line to the senior levels of the State Government. (There would be no additional costs to Government and it would be arranged through existing financial resources.)

 

(Listeria is a serious and sometimes fatal bacterial infection – especially in newborns, the elderly, pregnant women and people who are immune compromised. The symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea, aches, cramps, fever and headaches. It is a notifiable disease in NSW.)

 

Hepatitis A symptoms from the virus include nausea, vomiting, fever and yellowing of the skin, dark urine and pale stools. It takes from 15 to 50 days to develop symptoms.

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