Govt says berry screening widened after all

Agriculture department officials told a Senate estimates hearing yesterday that authorities had not increased checks of imported frozen berries in the wake of the outbreak and that hundreds of jobs had been lost in the department responsible for checking potential food hazards.

As of yesterday, 18 people had been diagnosed with hepatitis A linked to imported frozen berries, a week after a nationwide recall was issued for a range of products.

Secretary Dr Paul Grimes (PhD) told the Senate committee his department was still working on its formal response to the berries outbreak and “has not made changes on surveillance rates for berries broadly at this stage”.

Confusion has surrounded the government’s response to the outbreak after Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week said there would now be 100% screening of “these sorts of imports”.

He appeared to change his position yesterday, saying only those berries linked