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Hepatitis A Contaminated Frozen Berries
Food contamination and product recall
In February 2015, Patties Foods Ltd announced the recall of packs of Nanna’s Frozen Mixed Berries and Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries sold since October 2014, after the berries were revealed to be linked to a number of consumers contracting hepatitis A. At this stage, it’s believed that at least nine Australians have been diagnosed with the virus after eating the implicated berries in recent weeks.
A testing process is currently underway to determine whether the berries (or, for example, any ice or water they were frozen and shipped with) are contaminated with the hepatitis A virus, however it’s expected to take a few weeks before the results are known. Although the implicated frozen berry packs have been recalled and will hopefully not be consumed any longer, hepatitis A is a virus that can lie dormant for several weeks before a sufferer displays any symptoms, so it’s unfortunately likely that more people who have consumed the berries will be diagnosed with the virus in the weeks ahead.
Hepatitis A is a very unpleasant condition to develop, and symptoms can last for many weeks, however doctors report that in most cases the virus is able to be cleared without any lasting impact to victims’ health.
For people who have contracted the virus as a result of eating the contaminated berry products, it may be possible to claim compensation from the distributor. Slater and Gordon is investigating legal action on behalf of affected consumers, including the possibility of a class action.
Legal rights for injured consumers
Australia has a strong system of consumer protection laws in place, which are designed to protect consumers from faulty or unsafe products, and to hold manufacturers and distributers responsible for the quality of their goods. Importantly, the legislation holds distributors of imported products responsible for their safety to the same extent that it would if the products were manufactured within Australia.
The Australian Consumer Law requires that goods sold to consumers be fit for their disclosed purpose and be free from safety defects. In broad terms, this means that the safety of any goods sold in Australia needs to be of a level that people generally are entitled to expect, having regard to the nature of the product and its intended use.
On any view, food products that are contaminated with hepatitis A would fail to meet this standard.
The legislation provides a right for people who are injured by safety defects to claim compensation for their losses. This can include damages for pain and suffering, and compensation for economic losses such as medical expenses, lost earnings, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
There are some thresholds and preliminary criteria that need to be satisfied before a claim such as this can succeed, so we strongly recommend that anyone who has been injured in connection with Nanna’s or Creative Gourmet frozen berries should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
If you think you have been injured as a result of consuming the berries, please feel free to contact us on 1800 555 777, or complete the form below.
What to do if you think you might be affected
If you think you might have consumed the frozen berry products in question and might be experiencing symptoms of hepatitis A, the most important thing to do is to see your doctor as soon as you can.
If you have been injured by consuming the berries, it’s a good idea to take steps to preserve any evidence that might be relevant to your personal circumstances. This means that if you still have invoices or receipts from when you purchased the berries, it’s important to keep them safe. Similarly, if you have any evidence of when you consumed the berries (such as notes or even photos or videos), it is a good idea to make sure you hold on to these.
If you don’t still have access to these kinds of records, it’s worthwhile to take some time to write down as much as you can remember about when you purchased and consumed the berries now – these kinds of details tend to become harder to recall as time passes.
Medical authorities have stated that consumers should dispose of any unused affected frozen berries as soon as possible. If you consumed any affected berries and still have a partially-unused pack in your freezer, it may be a good idea to preserve this kind of evidence by taking detailed photos of the pack before disposing of it. We’d encourage anyone who has contracted hepatitis A and still has a pack of affected berries in their freezer to contact us to discuss the best way to dispose of them while still ensuring that the relevant evidence is preserved.
If you believe you may have contracted hepatitis A after consuming the affected frozen berries, or to obtain more information about our investigations on behalf of victims, please feel free to contact our office on 1800 555 777, or complete the form below.
More information about hepatitis A can be found at http://www.hepatitisaustralia.com