Frozen organic strawberries recalled due to possible link to hepatitis A outbreak

Five people have become ill during the outbreak, the FDA said.

An outbreak of hepatitis A may be linked to certain brands of frozen organic strawberries sold nationwide at retailers including Trader Joe’s and Costco, according to the US Federal Drug Administration, which announced a recall of the products this week.

Five people have become ill with confirmed or probable cases, including two hospitalized, in the outbreak, the FDA said Friday. Three confirmed and two probable cases were reported in Washington state.

In all cases, people reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after eating frozen organic strawberries, which were ultimately determined to have been imported from farms in Baja California, Mexico, last year and sold to a number of retailers under several brand names.

“In addition, 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 associated with fresh organic strawberries imported from Baja California, Mexico, and sold at various retailers,” the FDA said.

In response to the ongoing investigation, California Splendor and Scenic Fruit this week voluntarily recalled certain lots of frozen strawberries, the FDA said.

California Splendor has recalled the 4-lb. bags of Kirkland Signature Frozen Organic Whole Strawberries that were sold at Costco stores in Los Angeles and Hawaii and at two San Diego malls.

Scenic Fruit has recalled certain frozen organic strawberries sold at Costco, Aldi, KeHE, Vital Choice Seafood and PCC Community Markets in specific states, as well as frozen organic tropical blends sold at Trader Joe’s nationwide.

Information on the products affected by both recalls can be found here.

Both companies noted in their recall notices that hepatitis A has not been detected on the products, but “out of an abundance of caution” consumers should stop consuming the recalled items and return them to their local store for a refund. The companies said they have suspended production and distribution of the affected products amid investigation into the outbreak.

“As this study is ongoing, additional products may be included,” the FDA said.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease caused by exposure to the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms typically appear within 15 to 20 days of exposure after eating or drinking contaminated food or water and include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver function tests, dark urine, and pale stools.

Illness can last from a few weeks to several months if severe. In rare cases, hepatitis A infection can progress to liver failure – with those who have a pre-existing serious illness or are immunocompromised most at risk.

People who have consumed the recalled frozen organic strawberries within the past two weeks, who have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A or believe they have symptoms of a hepatitis A virus infection should contact a health care professional, the FDA said.

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