Sun-dried tomatoes are in the spotlight over a possible link to an outbreak of hepatitis A in the UK last year.

Seven people were reported to have been infected with a rare hepatitis strain between July and November, four of whom had eaten a “substantial” amount of sun-dried tomato products, and one had eaten products containing sun-dried tomatoes, the Health Protection Agency said. In total, four of the seven patients ended up in hospital but were later discharged.

The hepatitis strain found was identical to that found in five patients in the Netherlands, “raising the concern that these events could be related to an internationally distributed food source,” the HPA said.

The agency said it was liaising with the Food Standards Agency but added that no food samples had been tested, as “no specific brands have been implicated to date”.

The outbreak occurred between July and November 2011 and was analysed by the HPA in an article in EU medical journal Eurosurveillance early last month. It hit the news late on Sunday, when it was covered by the Daily Mail.