Friday, 10 May 2019 14:49

Frozen Berries Could Pose Outbreak Risk


The Food and Drug Administration has begun sampling frozen berries for several viral and bacterial hazards, to protect consumers and ensure food safety. This sampling is expected to last around 18 months. The agency is collecting domestic samples in retail packaging from processors, distribution centers, warehouses, and retailers; as well as imported samples from ports of entry, importer warehouses, and storage facilities. Two thousand samples in all will be tested. If the FDA detects contaminants, the agency will notify the public and take appropriate action to stop an impact on public health.

The FDA has reported three hepatitis A virus and one norovirus outbreak linked to frozen berries in the United States over the past several years. While these are small numbers, these foodborne illnesses can be serious. Hepatitis A symptoms typically start 2 to 6 weeks after exposure to the virus and are more likely in adults and kids older than 6. HAV can cause vomiting and diarrhea, as well as fever, loss of appetite, darker than usual urine (pee), jaundice (when the skin and whites of the eyes look yellow), and abdominal (belly) pain. Norovirus symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting typically begin 12 to 48 hours after exposure. Norovirus symptoms last one to three days, and most people recover completely without treatment. However, for some people - especially infants, older adults and people with underlying disease - vomiting and diarrhea can be severely dehydrating and require medical attention.

Frozen berries are used as ingredients in many foods without cooking, which enhances the danger of foodborne illness. Freezing preserves the berries but does not kill viruses that can survive at low temperatures. Berries are also delicate and have many crevices that can harbor pathogens. If farm or packing facility workers do not use proper hand hygiene, and storage surfaces aren't properly cleaned, foodborne illnesses can easily spread.

When choosing produce, try to find products that are grown as locally as possible. This does not guarantee their safety, but it does limit the amount of people and locations that have been involved in getting it to you, and generally means it has been sitting around for a shorter amount of time. When preparing food, remember to follow the most important food safety rule: wash all produce thoroughly. CitroBio Fresh Food Wash helps to control pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and more.

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