Is There a Link Between Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Hepatitis A?

Sun-dried tomatoes are often used during weight loss as an alternative healthy snack, but this could lead to more damaging wellbeing risks down the line. An investigation is being carried out by The Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to investigate whether there is a link between outbreaks of hepatitis A in England last year and eating sun-dried tomatoes.

Hepatitis A is a rare virus in the UK as it is more commonly found in countries with poor sanitation. Mostly, you’ll find this virus in countries such as Africa, northern and southern Asia, central America and southern and eastern Europe, and if you’ve ever travelled to these areas, you’ll know that it’s recommended that you get a vaccination against hepatitis A before you go. Hepatitis A works by infecting the liver and causing flu-like symptoms, fever, severe abdominal pains and diarrhoea.


So where do sun-dried tomatoes come into it? According to the HPA, in October 2011 two cases of hepatitis infection were reported that had identical strains to three confirmed cases seen in the UK in 2010. These were associated with eating sun-dried or semi-dried tomatoes, and in both of the cases reported in 2011, the patients had reported substantial consumption of sun-dried tomatoes. One of the three patients from 2010 had travelled to the Netherlands and consumed sun-dried tomatoes there, though no brands of sun-dried tomatoes have been implicated, and all three UK cases had the same strain associated with a cluster of cases of hepatitis A in the Netherlands at that time.


Without treatment, some people with hepatitis A still recover within a couple of months, yet it is potentially serious and fatalities can occur in the elderly, although deaths are rare in younger patients. Washing your hands thoroughly can prevent the spread of Hepatitis A, as it is mainly spread through traces of faecal matter contaminating hands, food or water. However, it is important to note that the FSA said ‘Sun-dried tomatoes are being investigated as one possible source of the hepatitis A cases reported last year. However, no food source has been conclusively identified so far and no other relevant cases have been reported in the UK since November 2011. The investigation by FSA and HPA is ongoing.’

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