Richard Moore: Health scare takes crunch out of fruit

By Richard Moore

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Supermarket fruit, including apples and peaches, could be carrying hepatitis A. Photo/Thinkstock
Supermarket fruit, including apples and peaches, could be carrying hepatitis A. Photo/Thinkstock

In these days we have come to expect that almost all of the food we eat should be safe for us to do so.

So it was with some shock I heard of the supermarket fruit scare that peaches and apples could be carrying hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A can damage your liver, make you feel pretty crap for six months or so and, in very rare cases, can kill you.

And it was with horror I looked at the apple cores and peach stones on my bench (and in my bin) and realised I had been munching in to the very fruit we were warned about.

There wasn't much to be done about it - any damage had been done - but it didn't stop me feeling both invaded and ripped off.

It annoyed me that I had spent good money on dodgy fruit and the remnants had to be chucked away.

It angered me that I had been serving the kids dozens of apples and not quite so many peaches that were potentially contaminated with hepatitis.

Hepatitis A is (please read this without an apple or peach in hand) usually spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with infected faeces.

Isn't that charming?

The source of contamination seems to be a Hawke's Bay packhouse where a worker was diagnosed with the disease.

Now, without putting too fine a point on it, that is always the danger when you have low paid workers who are often brought in from overseas to take on such jobs.

Food hygiene is not necessarily high on their lifeskills list.

When I cook I am feral in the handwashing department and making sure there is no cross-contamination between items to be served up.

To my knowledge I have never poisoned anyone with my food and take it as a personal affront I may have done so through what should be a healthy item such as fruit.

Experts say the chance of infection is relatively low, but that isn't the point.

All these packhouses should be exceptionally strict on hygiene and the one in question should be penalised.

And how come there was no call back from the supermarkets involved.

They include Pak'n Save, New World and Four Square stores in our region.

All we got was "Don't eat" then "Biff all the fruit" via news outlets.

As far as I can tell there has been no response from health authorities on the matter.

That isn't good enough in my book.

Every now and then I get the feeling Tauranga is moving into the modern world, but then someone writes a letter to the editor that has me back-pedaling on that faster than Lance Armstrong on performance de-enhancers.

The latest example is from a woman who was saying that she was disappointed a 66-year-old was complaining about age discrimination when applying for a job.

The writer's attitude was jobs are for the young, not people who qualify for the old-age pension.

The writer called this mature jobseeker selfish.

I was gobsmacked.

It's a long way away, but I'm going to be working into my 70s. I like working and I will decide when I cannot, not because someone reckons young people are more deserving than oldies.

What is it about people who just have to set limits on things?

The other week the Lotto prize pool was $25 million and a letter writer to the editor (yes another) said some people - almost certainly including himself - would say that figure was immoral.

Immoral?

I would have called it huge. Massive even. A lifechanger of lifechanging proportions ... but immoral? It is a gambling prize pool that has jackpotted. Where is the immorality in that?

The writer suggested capping the prize to $10 million and then having 15 other million-dollar parcels of dosh to give out.

Ohhhhh, isn't that sweet. Nanny state takes on Lady Luck.

I'm not sure if I object to the idea on anti-socialism grounds, or because it seems a very Kiwi way of keeping would-be tall poppies under control.

It's good to see border security being taken so seriously in the Wild North.

Just months after a lone male fruitfly was discovered dead in the area, the Department of Non-porous Borders has beefed up its presence in a bid to halt any unwanted immigrant greeblies trying to sneak in.

To help bolster the defences against Eve's ruin, a cute little Labrador pooch called Eden has taken to the byways of Northland to check out potentially nasty imports from cruise liners.

The little gal zoomed around a recent ship and checked passengers heading to shore.

Thank goodness she did because Eden caught offenders carrying - a flower and three green acorns.

Nice to know we're safe.

Richard Moore is an award-winning Western Bay journalist and photographer.

richard@richardmoore.com

- Bay of Plenty Times

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