Many people are aware of certain types of Hepatitis but what they don't know is that one particular strain can actually be food borne.
Hepatitis A, which can be spread by certain foods, has been increasing in number of recorded cases in the past few years. In fact, the Department of Health in Victoria indicated that there has been a dramatic increase in cases among Australian citizens since 2009.
Hepatitis A is a virus that damages the liver specifically. If not treated, it can be fatal. The culprit in the transmission of this disorder is semi-dried tomatoes, and the problem is such a concern that the Chief Health Officer released an emergency order to better educate manufacturers and consumers of the threat.
Processing and Record Keeping
The problem with semi-dried tomatoes actually goes back to the processing that occurs before packaging for consumer use. Proper record keeping should ensure that no tomatoes are used past a specific date. However, before the issue came to light, several companies were processing expired tomatoes and therefore passing on contaminated foods to the public. Any food business that manufactures semi-dried tomatoes or imports them from another business should take special note of the Victoria emergency order to ensure all proper Food Act laws are followed.
Additionally, any food business that sells semi-dried tomatoes or products made from them must keep accurate records and should always report any issues of contamination.
The incubation period on Hepatitis A can be several weeks to several months. Because of this, the contamination is often not reported until more consumers have purchased the foods and become sick themselves. This disease is self-limiting. That means it will not become chronic and incurable like some other forms of Hepatitis. However, the symptoms can be acute and very dangerous, especially for children or elderly. Symptoms of the virus include:
- Loss of appetite
- Dark amber urine