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Posted On: 20 September 2016 08:39 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:16 pm

Strawberries ‘free from Hepatitis A virus’

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Strawberries imported into Qatar from Egypt are safe and free from the Hepatitis A virus, local Arabic daily Arrayah has said quoting a source at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME).
The report follows recent cases of Hepatitis A in the US, which were allegedly linked to the consumption of drinks containing frozen strawberries imported from Egypt.

“The outcome of laboratory tests conducted on samples of the product obtained from both the local market and the agricultural quarantine section at the airport has confirmed that these strawberries are safe and not linked to the Hepatitis A virus,” the daily quoted the official as saying.

“A team of inspectors from the MME Food Control Department, in co-operation with agricultural quarantine and Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) inspectors, collected samples from consignments of strawberry imported into the country by air for laboratory tests. This precautionary measure covered all types, including fresh strawberries entering the country, following reports of the infection in the US. However, no case of contamination has been found.”

Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe illness.
A circular has been sent to authorities at all entry points in the country not to release any such consignment without drawing random samples for lab tests to check their safety, Arrayah said.

Meanwhile, the MoPH has said it is following up on the outcome of an investigation into recent cases of Hepatitis A in the US.
In a statement on its official website, the ministry said it was following up the matter with all international entities concerned.
The ministry has taken the necessary precautionary measures, in co-operation with the competent authorities, to ensure that no contaminated food enter the country, the statement notes.

Further, the MoPH has advised consumers to follow food safety measures while dealing with fruits and vegetables and ensure that they wash such items properly before consumption. It has also urged people to obtain information from official sources only.

The statement also points out that the MoPH has not received any notice or warning from international agencies for food safety and emergencies regarding any other products, contrary to reports that are being circulated on social media.
People across a number of states in the US were recently reported to have been diagnosed with Hepatitis A. According to reports, the matter was traced back to frozen strawberries imported from Egypt after many of the patients said they had consumed smoothies at cafes.

The hepatitis A virus (HAV) is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water or through direct contact with an infectious person.
According to the World Health Organisation, almost everyone recovers fully from Hepatitis A with a lifelong immunity. (Source / Image)