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Hep A fears on sun-dried tomatoes

HEALTH officials are investigating whether there is a link between recent outbreaks of hepatitis A and eating sun-dried tomatoes.

The UK's Health Protection Agency (HPA) said two confirmed cases of the infection have been found to have identical strains to three cases reported in England and confirmed at HPA Colindale in 2010.

Both people had recently consumed sun-dried tomatoes.

The three UK cases in 2010 had the same strain associated with a cluster of cases of hepatitis A in the Netherlands at that time, which were also linked to the food stuff.

The HPA said that one of the three cases identified in 2010 had travelled to Holland and consumed sun-dried tomatoes there.

A joint statement from the HPA and Food Standards Agency (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."

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver, which leads to inflammation of the organ.