About Hygiene, Ireland

Frozen Berry Alert - Boil for 1 minute

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The FSAI recommends boiling imported frozen berries for one minute before consumption as a result of reported outbreaks of norovirus and hepatitis A virus in imported frozen berries across Europe in recent years. This is particularly important when serving these foods to vulnerable people such as nursing home residents.

The FSAI first issued this advice in 2013 and re-issued alert again in May 2017 as a result of over 1,000 cases reported in 12 EU countries. 

FSAI state contamination could occur on the farm, through use of sewage-contaminated agricultural water or through contamination by infected workers. Cross-contamination could occur post-harvest along the supply chain, through contact with contaminated surfaces of machines, equipment and facilities during freezing, mixing and packaging processes. 

 

Catering Alert

In 2015, an outbreak of norovirus occurred in a Swedish nursing home causing 70 people to become ill. Three deaths were reported to have been potentially linked to this outbreak. Microbiological analysis confirmed the presence of norovirus in the frozen berries.

Between 2014 and 2016, there were 20 alerts issued across Europe regarding norovirus and two regarding hepatitis A, linked to frozen berries. In 2017 to date (January to May) there have been 6 norovirus alerts but no hepatitis A alerts, linked to frozen berries. 

When purchasing berries if the label does not state the country of origin, you should assume that the berries are imported.

 

Retailer Alert

Retailers selling imported frozen berries need to ensure that the berries are sourced from reputable suppliers with an effective food safety management systems and comprehensive traceability systems.

If supplier cannot provide assurances over berries supplier, the FSAI recommends that the retailer displays a notice advising customers that the frozen berries should be boiled for one minute before consumption. 

Consumer Advice

Food businesses using imported frozen berries need to ensure that the berries they use are sourced from reputable suppliers. If you are concerned about where the berries have come from, ask the food business and they will also be able to advise whether the berries were boiled.

If you purchase imported frozen berries you should boil them for one minute before consumption. Boiling for one minute will destroy viruses, if present. 

The FSAI state there is ‘no evidence to suggest that fresh Irish or fresh imported berries are a risk. Fresh berries should be washed before consumption which is in keeping with the advice for all fresh fruit and vegetables’.

The FSAI state that tinned or canned berries have not been identified as a risk. 

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