News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Frozen Blueberry Warning

Director General Of Health Privileged Statement Under Section 37 Of The Food Act 1981

12 April 2002

Director General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi today advised people who froze blueberries bought fresh in punnets between December 23 and the end of January that were sourced from a Waikato farm to discard them or thoroughly cook them before eating them.

These blueberries were widely distributed, possibly nationally, under the "Waikato Blueberries" brand.

Auckland District Health Board Public Health Protection Service has been investigating an increased number of hepatitis A cases over the past few weeks. Seventeen of the 29 cases of hepatitis A in Auckland from January until now have been linked with eating blueberries.

It is known that a person with a confirmed case of hepatitis A was at Marshmeadows Farm Limited during some of the harvesting period. Some of the blueberries linked with the Auckland cases were from this farm.

Dr Poutasi said this warning to consumers was issued tonight because there was a potential risk to people from eating affected blueberries they bought fresh in punnets from 23 December and the end of January and then froze.

"The Ministry is working with the blueberry industry to try and be more specific about what product is affected, how products from the farm can be identified and where they were sold."

Unfortunately, it may prove difficult for consumers to identify what farm their blueberries are from.

"Although the fresh blueberry season is over, people may still have frozen blueberries in their freezers. If these were brought fresh in punnets between December 23 and the end of January they need to ensure these are either discarded or thoroughly cooked to destroy the hepatitis A virus."

For thorough cooking, frozen blueberries should be defrosted first to make sure the temperature inside the blueberry reaches at least 85 degrees centigrade for 90 seconds during cooking. Boiling them is recommended.

The hepatitis A virus is not destroyed by freezing.

Its symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, nausea or abdominal discomfort with jaundice. People who are concerned they may have eaten affected blueberries and are experiencing symptoms should seek medical advice.

They should also be very careful with their personal hygiene as the disease is spread from person to person by the faecal-oral route. After using the toilet, people should carefully wash their hands with soap for at least ten seconds and thoroughly dry them.

signed by:

Dr Karen O Poutasi,

Director-General of Health


Hepatitis A is the most common type of hepatitis. Hepatitis A is transmitted from person to person through the faecal-oral route.

The incubation period is usually between 28 and 30 days.

People are most infectious one to two weeks before and the first few days after the onset of jaundice.

There is no treatment once the disease has been caught but an immune globulin injection can prevent the progression of the disease.

The hepatitis A vaccine is advised for overseas travellers particularly to areas where food handling is suspect.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Reuben Moss' Property is Theft! & Kaitani at The Physics Room

Property is Theft! continues Moss’ interest in the contemporary urban environment as a space controlled by pulsing and unequal flows of capital and labour. Kaitani features work by the University of Canterbury Fijian Students Association and Kulimoe’anga Stone Maka. More>>

Handcrafted Form: Rare Treasures From Japan

This unique exhibition at Expressions Whirinaki represents 90 everyday objects made by contemporary Japanese artisans who employ various traditional craft techniques made in regional workshops. The works used in daily life are crafted from raw materials with techniques appropriate to bringing out the best of its medium, balancing ease of use with aesthetic appeal. More>>

Howard Davis Article: A Musical Axis - Brahms, Wagner, Sibelius

Brahms' warm and exquisitely subtle Symphony No. 3 in F major, Wagner's irrepressibly sentimental symphonic poem Siegfried Idyll, and Sibelius' chilling and immensely challenging Violin Concerto in D minor exemplify distinct stages of development in a tangled and convoluted series of skirmishes that came to define subsequent disputes about the nature of post-Romantic orchestral writing well into the following century. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: A Pale Ghost Writer

Reviewed by Ruth Brassington, Richard Flanagan's new novel is about a novelist hastily ghost-writing the biography of a crook about to go to trial. The reader is kept on a cliff-edge, as the narrator tries to get blood out of his stone man. More>>

New Zealand Wars Commemoration: Witi Ihimaera's Sleeps Standing Moetū

The second of several articles to mark Rā Maumahara, remembering the New Zealand Land Wars. The first was a Q&A with Vincent O’Malley, author of The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800–2000. More>>




  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland