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Frozen berries launch in Aus, promotes transparent labelling

New Australian grown frozen berries have arrived in stores. Matilda’s Frozen Berries, grown by Sunny Ridge and packaged in a new, purpose built facility in Victoria’s Yarra Valley has officially launched, less than 24 hours after New Zealand reported a new case of Hepatitis A contamination, which is most likely linked to imported frozen berries. 

The new brand could be in demand as its berries are grown under strict hygiene controlled conditions, and traceable to the region where they came from, unlike berries from larger facilities in countries such as China. “We’re really proud to be able to provide a product which really challenges the current food labelling system,” says Matilda’s co-founder Ruth Gallace. “There needs to be far more transparency as to food origin, how it’s processed and packaged.”
New Zealand health authorities had been monitoring frozen berries since dozens of people were affected by Hepatitis A contamination from Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet Frozen berries that came into Australia from China in February. The New Zealand Director of Plants, Food and the Environment for the Ministry of Primary Industries, Peter Thompson, confirmed on Monday that four cases of Hepatitis A had been discovered, and were ‘thought to be linked to imported frozen berries’. A warning was issued to consumers to ensure that they boil frozen berries for at least 1 minute at 85 degrees Celsius to kill the bacteria, as washing will not destroy it.
The statement was also quick to point out that fresh berries are not implicated in the scare, and that there is no known origin country for the latest incident.
The origin of all Matilda’s products will be transparent, and open for consumers to see, according to the company’s statement. That means that not only will all berries be Australian grown, but also the region they come from will be on every bag, setting a benchmark standard for Country of Origin labelling in Australia.
Country of origin labelling has been the subject of heated debate since the time of the Australian incident in February, and proposals to change labels, displaying the percentage of ingredients from Australia, were announced in August.
Cider manufacturers have also been pushing to be included in new laws, so that brands using imported concentrate fruit juice would be easily identified.
Hepatitis A is passed on from infected factory workers who have not adequately washed their hands after using the bathroom, as it is found in fecal matter. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and loss of appetite, fatigue or jaundice (yellow skin). Symptoms can take up to 25 days to appear.

Matilda’s frozen berries arrived in independent stores in Victoria on December 1, and arrive in Queensland, NSW and South Australia in coming weeks.

For more information
Kirstie Bedford, Communications representative
Matilda’s Australian Frozen Berries
Phone: +61437 455 001

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