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Ica removes 'hep A risk' frozen strawberries

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Ica removes 'hep A risk' frozen strawberries
17:05 CEST+02:00
Swedish supermarket chain Ica announced on Wednesday that it was removing all frozen strawberries from its shelves, due to the risk of them being a source for the spread of the hepatitis A virus.

"We're halting sales on the advice of Sweden's National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket)," Johanna Stiernstedt of Ica Sweden told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

The berries that have been removed from shelves are the Ica Basic frozen strawberries in 1 kg packets, the 150-gramme Ica deep frozen strawberries, and the 1-kg Ica Basic Berry Mix (Bärmix). The berries come from Morocco and Egypt.

The fact that the berries may contain the virus is nothing new for Sweden, but Wednesday marked the first instance that Ica had decided to remove the berries. Stiernstedt maintained that there was no health risk, however.

"We've had extensive dialogue with the suppliers and we have no sign that our products are a health risk," she added.

She said that concerned customers were welcome to bring any purchased products back for a refund, however, she stressed that there was no risk in eating them.

In April, health authorities warned that a hepatitis A outbreak in Sweden could be linked to frozen berries. Experts with the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet, SMI) advised berry lovers to take caution when consuming any berries bought in Sweden that were sold frozen.

In May, however, SMI tweaked its advice, saying it was safe to eat all frozen berries except strawberries.

At the time, there were 44 confirmed cases of hepatitis in the Nordic countries that could be traced back to the same source: 26 from Denmark, ten from Sweden, five from Norway and three from Finland.

The virus strain was linked to frozen berries first discovered in Denmark.

TT/The Local/og

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