On 19 May 2017 an expert meeting was held at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) with 33 participants from official food inspection, the relevant business associations and federal institutions on the subject of “Avoiding the presence of viruses in frozen berries”.
Frozen berries have been identified several times in recent years as the cause of disease outbreaks. Contaminations of the berries with noroviruses or hepatitis A viruses played a major role. The raw consumption of berries contaminated with these viruses, can lead to gastrointestinal diseases or liver inflammation. The most important measure to prevent virus contamination, the consistent implementation of existing hygiene rules, especially during cultivation and harvesting of the berries.
To this end, the sensitisation of farmers in the cultivating countries and the establishment of the professional hygiene management with regular training of personnel as well as regular controls, for example as part of certification programmes, are particularly important.
There was agreement that the current legal regulations were sufficient to ensure the hygienic production of frozen berries. Problems arise from incorrect or incomplete implementation of existing standards. According to the BfR, so far there is no direct evidence for outbreaks of the disease by the consumption of fresh berries (e.g. by scientific research publications or official reporting systems), whereas frozen berries are the cause.