EU: Stricter control of strawberries from China

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EU wants to control strawberries from China more closely for health risks

After strawberries from China have been increasingly in the focus of the public in the past few weeks because of possible health risks, the EU is now apparently planning stricter import controls for Chinese strawberries. It is envisaged that "frozen strawberries imported into the EU from China will in future be examined more intensively by the European authorities for noroviruses and hepatitis A viruses", according to the latest communication from the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.

Already at the end of September, frozen strawberries from China, which were contaminated with noroviruses, caused a food epidemic, in which almost 11,000 students in eastern Germany contracted vomiting diarrhea. Possible contamination of Chinese strawberry products with hepatitis A viruses is again causing uncertainty. A week ago, Belgian authorities discovered hepatitis A viruses in Chinese strawberries, and this week the food control authorities in Lower Saxony confirm the findings during official controls. For this reason, the member states of the European Union will come to Brussels next Tuesday to discuss the establishment of special import controls for strawberries from China, reports the Federal Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

Health risks from Chinese strawberries? The massive gastrointestinal infections of thousands of students in East Germany initially posed considerable problems for the health authorities before it became clear that symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting were caused by noroviruses in the school caterer's frozen strawberries. Further research showed that the frozen strawberries came from China. Now, official controls have again uncovered a strain on Chinese strawberries. The authorities found hepatitis A viruses on frozen strawberries. "The goods concerned - frozen strawberry cubes imported via Sweden - had already been taken out of circulation by the responsible authorities in cooperation with the companies concerned," reports the Federal Ministry of Consumer Affairs. The Lower Saxony manufacturer has therefore recalled its nationwide frozen cakes (Natreen strawberry yoghurt slices, 400 g).

Cause of the contamination so far unclear The latest laboratory results on the Chinese frozen strawberries must be taken as an opportunity "to advise on the consequences at European level", a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Consumer Affairs said in Berlin on Friday. Since different products from Chinese manufacturers were affected, "the cause of the contamination of the food, ie the exact entry route, should now be investigated as a matter of priority", the ministry said. This was also one of the issues that the federal government’s food safety experts wanted to discuss with the Chinese authorities during a trip to Beijing this weekend. (fp)

Image: Wilhelmine Wulff /

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