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First Reported Death From Frozen Pomegranate Recorded In Australia


Katy Evans

Katy is Managing Editor at IFLScience where she oversees editorial content from News articles to Features, and even occasionally writes some.

Managing Editor


Always wash your fruit, just to be on the safe side. Webwaffe/Shutterstock

“Death by pomegranate” may sound like an Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes novel, and like those famous stories, this one is strange, but unlike them, it’s also true.

A woman in Australia has died after contracting Hepatitis A from eating contaminated frozen pomegranate seeds. The 64-year-old woman’s death was a “rare and tragic case”, according to health authorities. So, what actually happened?


The pomegranate arils, the delicious fleshy seeds, from Creative Gourmet owned by Entyce Food Ingredients, were actually first recalled back in April after 24 cases of Hepatitis A in New South Wales were linked to the frozen produce.

Around 2,000 packets of the fruit, which is grown in Egypt, were thought to have been sold, but as the incubation period for Hepatitis A is between 15 and 50 days, and the recall was issued two months ago, officials say they don't anticipate any further related cases.

"The majority of people infected with hepatitis A recover fully and the woman's death is the only death linked to this recalled product nationally to date,” South Australia (SA) Health chief medical officer Professor Paddy Phillips said in a statement, reports ABC News.  

Hepatitis A is a virus that attacks the liver. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, fever, and abdominal pain and can last up to eight weeks. Death is very rare though, and officials have not said whether the woman had any other medical conditions, just that she had been in hospital for “some time” and died last Wednesday.


Hepatitis A is spread by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with feces. Entyce Food has not commented on how the product may have become contaminated, but said they were deeply saddened by news of the death and that they are working closely with health authorities and the SA Coroner to help determine the exact cause of the woman's death and whether there was "any direct link with the consumption of frozen pomegranate arils and hepatitis A."

However, this is not the first time its produce has been linked to a Hepatitis A outbreak. Its frozen berries mix had to be recalled in 2015 and last year due to similar circumstances.

Authorities are pointing out that this is an isolated issue and not related in any way to pomegranates themselves or even fresh fruit. However, Australia also saw a spate of five deaths and a miscarriage linked to contracting listeria from cantaloupe melons earlier this year.

This story acts as a clear reminder for you to always wash your fruit before eating it, because let’s face it, you have no idea where it has been before it’s been in your mouth.


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