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Hepatitis A Spread by Berries Shipped from Chile and China

Illustration of viral particles next to red blood cells in a blood vessel

Here in the United States, many of our products are imported from foreign countries like Chile and China, but a recent hepatitis scare brought on by unsanitary food production practices abroad may change all of that. While the United States has yet to be affected, it may be only a matter of time, so now may be a smart time to start shopping for health insurance. Several countries have already been issued recalls, and this wouldn’t be the first time that the U.S. was hit by a foreign frozen berry-borne hepatitis A outbreak.

The most recent outbreak of the life-threatening disease was reported in Australia when the hard-to-detect hepatitis virus was carried to at least 9 Australians via frozen mixed berries imported from Chile and China. The brands Nanna and Creative Gourmet have been recalled all over the country to prevent the spread of the disease while officials working in the Australian berry industry urge the public to avoid imported berries altogether.

It’s stressed that eating any imported foods without cooking or boiling them is a bad idea due to extremely loose and unregulated sanitary conditions. Many imported goods contain fecal matter, possibly tainted with hepatitis or one of many other diseases that can be communicated via fecal matter.

Areas hit by similar infections since 2013 include…
– Italy
– Ireland
– Oregon
– Arizona
– California
– Colorado
– New Mexico

To add to the already serious issue, the same raw human sewage that is quite probably the culprit in all of this is welcomed into the berry growing environment in the form of fertilizer. While it’s widely known that fecal matter is a great fertilizer, the use of human waste in this practice is extremely unsanitary and, unfortunately, more than common enough to have possibly contributed to this outbreak. The problem is further exacerbated when workers use the restroom and return to their job without washing their hands, contributing further to the unsanitary conditions.

This issue clearly isn’t being ignored by Australian officials, and some organizations, such as one Victorian school, have removed the berries from their menus entirely. Since pregnant women and small children are at the highest risk, it makes sense to remove these products from schools, but we would like to remind our readership to avoid Nanna and Creative Gourmet brands of frozen berries in the meantime. Some of you may remember these two companies from a 2013 incident that lead to over 34 confirmed cases of the disease throughout the western United States. If you don’t have health insurance, contact us and we’ll help you find a plan that’s right for you. Even if you can’t afford a conventional health insurance plan, free government health insurance plans are available to those in need.

While no cases of hepatitis in the U.S. have been conclusively linked to frozen berries from overseas, with the persistent risks posed by imported berries, it’s better to stay safe, buy locally, and support local berry growers.

How do you think health standards abroad could be revised to prevent future outbreaks? Do you think American customers should avoid imported food products altogether? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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