British health experts are investigating an outbreak of potentially deadly hepatitis linked to sun-dried tomatoes.

A probe by the Health Protection Agency of cases of hepatitis A from July to December last year revealed seven cases in which sun-dried tomatoes were implicated.

Hepatitis A is infectious and can lead to fatal liver complications.

Health officials fear contaminated samples or other foods containing them could still be on sale or lurking in kitchen cupboards, a daily reported Monday.

This is because they are unable to test food for the virus and do not know which brand of sun-dried tomato is responsible.

Sun-dried tomatoes have become an increasingly popular ingredient in middle class kitchens and favourite of TV celebrity chefs.

The hepatitis A virus is carried by human faces and can be passed on through contaminated food or water. It is a common food-borne disease preventable by vaccine.