Semi-dried tomatoesHepatitis A is a serious viral disease that affects the liver. In 2009 there was an increase in cases of locally acquired Hepatitis A. The majority of these infections have been contracted in Victoria. As most Victorians have no immunity, it is important that appropriate steps are taken to protect them.
On the information available, the most likely explanation for the transmission of the Hepatitis A virus in these cases has been the consumption of semi-dried tomatoes.
In November 2009 Victoria’s Chief Health Officer made an emergency order under the Food Act to prevent or reduce the possibility of a serious danger to public health, and to mitigate adverse consequences. This order expired at the conclusion of 9 February 2010.
Ordinarily such an "emergency order" is temporary or occasional in nature. Each such order is time limited.
The current number of cases of locally acquired Hepatitis A believed to be contracted from semi-dried tomatoes has diminished. However, it is important to ensure that there is no increase in cases in the future.
Therefore other measures may be required to establish a longer term solution. There remains a risk that the problems identified may recur and this may adversely affect public health.
At the request of the (Victorian) Department of Health, Food Standards Australia New Zealand is currently considering what type of measures, if any, should be adopted nationally in the Food Standards Code about semi-dried tomatoes. For further information please visit the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.