Nottinghamshire fruit growers hit back at health scare as crops are given all-clear

From the I’ve-been-doings-things-this-way-all-my-life files comes word that strawberry growers across Nottinghamshire, UK, say their product is “perfectly safe” in light of a report from  the European Food Safety Agency which described frozen strawberries, along with raspberries, as an “emerging public health risk” after being linked to cases of the potentially fatal norovirus in Europe.

strawberryIIn 2012, almost 11,000 people in Germany were struck down by Norovirus.

The Food Safety Agency report warned that fruits could be contaminated by dirty water used in irrigation or to dilute fertiliser, or a lack of hygiene in the packing and freezing processes.

However, there have not been any confirmed outbreaks in Britain.

Maybe theirs some confusion between frozen and fresh.

Suzannah Starkey, of Starkey’s Fruit in Southwell, said, “We don’t want the British people to fall out of love with strawberries – you can’t get better anywhere else. They are at their very best at the moment.

“All the Starkey family have eaten the strawberries all their lives, straight from the bush, and have never had a single problem.” Our strawberries are subject to very stringent hygiene standards. The pickers always wash their hands before picking and are subject to spot checks by health inspectors. The punnets are heat-sealed and rapidly chilled, and are maintained at that level until they are taken off the shelf by the customer.”

Responding to the European Food Safety Agency report, Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits, the UK body dedicated to the promotion of British-grown soft and stone fruits, said: “The UK fresh fruit crop does not pose a public health risk.

“This report is based on out-of-date references relating to a very specific issue with frozen berries from developing countries, imported into other parts of Europe in 2012.”