Apples, peaches recalled in Hepatitis A scare

23:19, Mar 13 2014

People are urged to check their fruit after a warning apples and peaches may be carrying Hepatitis A.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is concerned about some Royal Gala and New Zealand Beauty apples, and Golden Queen peaches sold over the past fortnight after a packhouse worker was found to have the virus.

Washing the fruit would not make it safe to eat, MPI Deputy Director General Scott Gallacher said.

"If you have any concerns that the fruit you have was on sale between February 27 and March 13 then the best thing is you either cook it or if you have any doubt, put it out," he said.

Gallacher said people should be on alert for symptoms of the virus: "Skin jaundice, or yellowing of the whites of the eyes, dark-coloured urine or pale bowel motions. Early signs of hepatitis A are a fever, a loss of appetite, stomach pains and nausea."

A worker at a Hawke's Bay pack house had been diagnosed with the virus, and could have been infectious during a four-day fruit-handling period, he said.

Some of the affected fruit has been traced and withdrawn from sale, but about 1400 cartoons have been sold possibly consumed.

Hepatitis A is an infectious liver disease that can be spread through personal contact and contaminated food, according to the Ministry of Health.

Symptoms take six weeks to appear.

Potentially contaminated fruit include:

- Royal Gala apples and Golden Queen peaches sold at Countdown, Fresh Choice and Super Value supermarkets in the North Island.

- Golden Queen peaches from Pak 'n Save, New World and Four Square supermarkets from Taupo to Kaitaia.

- New Zealand Beauty apples from Countdown, Fresh Choice and Super Value supermarkets in the South Island.