Public health officials are investigating the connection between certain frozen organic strawberries and a new outbreak of hepatitis A infections.
The Food and Drug Administration reports that the organic strawberries have been distributed nationwide to a variety of retailers, including Costco, Aldi, KeHE, Vital Choice Seafood, and PCC Community Markets in certain states, and to Trader Joe’s. The frozen strawberries have been sold under a variety of brand names.
There is great concern that consumers may have the strawberries in their homes because the best-by dates stretch into November of 2024.
“The strain of hepatitis A virus causing illnesses this year is genetically identical to the strain that caused the outbreak of hepatitis A virus infections in 2022, which was linked to fresh organic strawberries imported from Baja California, Mexico, and sold at various retailers,” according to a statement from the FDA.
“If consumers purchased the recalled frozen organic strawberries and ate those berries in the last two weeks, and have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A, they should immediately consult with their healthcare professional to determine whether post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is needed.”
The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus within two weeks of consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Vaccination can prevent a hepatitis A virus infection if given within 14 days of exposure. Those with evidence of previous hepatitis A vaccination or previous hepatitis A virus infection do not require the post-exposure vaccination.
Earlier today the FDA posted a recall notice from the California Splendor company for frozen strawberries sold at Costco under the Kirkland brand. Scenic Fruit Company also posted a recall for strawberries sold at a variety of stores under a number of brands. Those brands are:
- Simply Nature, Organic Strawberries, Best By 06/14/2024
- Vital Choice, Organic Strawberries, BEST BY 05/20/2024
- Kirkland Signature, Organic Strawberries, Best If Used By 10/08/2024
- Made With, Organic Strawberries, Best Before 11/20/2024
- PCC Community Markets, Organic Strawberries, Best By 29/10/2024
- Trader Joe’s, Organic Tropical Fruit Blend with the following Best By dates: 04/25/24; 05/12/24; 05/23/24; 05/30/24; 06/07/24
The FDA stresses that more stores and brands could be added to the list of retailers who received the frozen organic strawberries implicated in this outbreak.
FDA’s traceback investigation identified a common supplier of frozen organic strawberries. Strawberries used by this supplier were imported from certain farms located in Baja California, Mexico, in 2022.
So far there have been five people reported with hepatitis A infections. The infection attacks the liver. All five patients reported eating frozen organic strawberries before becoming ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two of the patients have required hospitalization.
“Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not sell, serve, or eat recalled frozen strawberries. These recalled products should be returned or thrown away,” according to the notice from the FDA.
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