In a rare and tragic case of food contamination, an Australian woman has died after eating a frozen pomegranate that was contaminated with hepatitis A virus, the BBC reported. According to the report, the Australian-owned Creative Gourmet frozen pomegranate was recalled in April this year after the product has been linked to 24 cases of hepatitis A nationally. State health authorities said that about 2,000 packets of the Egyptian-grown pomegranate arils were sold to the public, but just 226 packets had been returned. Residents have been warned to discard packets of the frozen fruit.
The health authorities said that fresh and locally grown pomegranates were not affected. Entyce Food Ingredients said the contamination was linked to ‘a relatively small batch’ of its product. The 64-year-old woman, who died in South Australia last week, succumbed to the infection after a significant period of time in the hospital.
“The woman’s death is the only death linked to this recalled product nationally to date,” South Australia chief medical officer Prof Paddy Phillips said. Most other people affected had made a full recovery and no further cases were expected, he said.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that is usually spread through faecal matter, transmitted through sex or by touching contaminated food or objects. Typically, hepatitis A takes between 15 and 50 days to develop the symptoms, which include nausea, fever, and yellowing of the skin, local health authorities said.
Hepatitis A can be unpleasant, but in most cases, people affected by the virus make a full recovery within a couple of months. The condition can be life-threatening if it causes the liver to stop functioning although such complications are rare. If the liver failure does occur, a liver transplant is usually required to treat it.
According to NHS Choices, there’s currently no cure for hepatitis A, but the condition resolves itself in most patients in a few weeks without treatment.
It may be noted that this isn’t the first case of a Hepatitis A outbreak in Australia. Last year, Entyce Food Ingredients was also compelled to pull back a selection of its frozen mixed berries products following another Hepatitis A outbreak. Furthermore, earlier this year, seven people died in Australia after consuming melon contaminated with Listeria bacteria, the BBC report added