New Zealand Implements New Import Rules for Frozen Berries After Hepatitis A Outbreak

By Trisha Andrada

Apr 23, 2024 07:07 AM EDT

New Zealand Food Safety has updated its import regulations to handle frozen berries better. Frozen berries were linked to an outbreak of hepatitis A in 2022 and 2023 that affected 39 individuals. 

frozen berries
The New Zealand Food Safety agency has improved frozen berry import standards to avoid another Hepatitis outbreak. 
(Photo : Devin Rajaram on Unsplash)

Frozen Berries Linked to Hepatitis A Outbreak in New Zealand

Pams withdrew 478 bags of frozen berries in February 2023 to prevent another potential outbreak. These berries were from the same batch that was recalled in 2022. 

It was eventually determined that the berries originated in Serbia, where the virus could have been transferred from infected individuals handling the fruit.

Based on genomic sequencing, the berries also matched those that caused a virus outbreak in Sweden. Pams, a local company in New Zealand, sources and brands a diverse range of supermarket goods as a house brand.

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New Zealand Is Among the Countries Affected by Presence of the Virus in Frozen Berries

When asked about the presence of the virus in frozen berries, New Zealand Food Safety Deputy Director-General Vincent Arbuckle said Tuesday that the country was among the several countries affected.

According to 1News, Arbuckle noted that they worked hard to identify and implement ways to enhance food safety regulations to manage consumer risk better. He said that major frozen berry importers were involved in this and have expressed strong support for the changes.

The change, a first for New Zealand, will release an independent certification to confirm that an overseas manufacturer's food safety systems met the country's food safety standards.

"This gives us more confidence that risks associated with frozen berries are being managed off-shore before they come to New Zealand," "Arbuckle noted.

The changes would take effect on August 1, and importers would have 18 months, or until January 31, 2026, to adjust to the new import requirements.

Read More: New Zealand to Ban Disposable Vapes, Hike Fines for Retailers Selling to Minors to Discourage Vaping Among Youth

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