A 64-year-old woman has died from Hepatitis A after contracting the disease from contaminated pomegranates. The fruit, which alongside other frozen products made by the same company, have since been recalled and Australians are being warned to look through their freezer and bin any product made and sold by the Australian company Creative Gourmet.
The “rare and tragic” death came after 2000 of the tainted packets of frozen pomegranates were sold to the public. The pomegranates were grown and harvested in Egypt which means that the same company’s fresh and locally grown products are not affected by the contamination.
“The majority of people infected with hepatitis A recover fully and the woman's death is the only death linked to this recalled product nationally to date,” South Australia's chief medical officer, Paddy Phillips, said.
Pomegranate contamination kills woman in Australia https://t.co/H8ep6suONZ— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) June 6, 2018
“While we expect most people would have disposed of the recalled product, we urge everyone to double-check freezers and remove any affected products.”
It has been reported that others have been infected by the disease but all of them have so far made a full recovery.
Hepatitis A typically attacks the liver and is spread via contact with faeces or sexual transmission. It has been confirmed that the pomegranates in question have been tainted with human faeces.
An Australian woman has been killed by a pomegranate contaminated with hepatitis A https://t.co/4MoUBTw0J9— Business Insider (@businessinsider) June 6, 2018
The disease, which can take 10-25 days before symptoms appear, often manifests with nausea, fever and yellowing of the skin.
Despite this death Creative Gourmet have emphasised that the infected fruit represent just a small fraction of what they sell overall, while reiterating that their fresh produce will be unaffected. Whether or not these claims of safety are well-received or not seems unlikely to affect the fact that most people will likely be put-off Creative Gourmet products for the foreseeable future.
A situation made only worse by the fact that another company, Entyce Food, had a separate Hepatitis A outbreak last year, causing thousands of frozen berries to pulled from the shelves. While that outbreak did not result in any deaths like this years, it was still one of the largest cases of contaminated food products in Australian history.