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Frozen Strawberries Sold At Costco, Trader Joe’s Recalled Over Possible Link To Hepatitis A Outbreak

KEY POINTS

  • Several batches of frozen organic strawberries have been recalled
  • Cases of Hepatitis A were found in five people
  • The outbreak was reported in Washington

Several brands of frozen organic strawberries sold at popular retail outlets across the country, including low-cost leaders Costco and Trader Joe’s, have been recalled because of a possible link to a hepatitis A outbreak in Washington. Read also : Trade, Security Top Issues As African Leaders Meet.

The infection was reported in five people in the state, resulting in two hospitalizations. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating the outbreak.

Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver that causes mild to severe illness. The latest outbreak is possibly linked to frozen strawberries imported by a common supplier from berry farms located in Baja California, Mexico, and sold to various retailers under a motley of brand labels, the FDA announced. According to epidemiological data collected by CDC, all five people reported eating frozen organic strawberries that were imported by the supplier in 2022.

San Diego-based fruit processor California Splendor voluntarily recalled certain batches of 4-lb. bags of Kirkland Signature Frozen Organic Whole Strawberries on Feb. 17. They were sold at Costco stores in Hawaii and Los Angeles and two business centers in San Diego. You can find details of the products on the FDA website.

Similarly, Scenic Fruit Company, based in Gresham, Oregon, voluntarily recalled frozen organic strawberries sold under brand names Simply Nature, Vital Choice, Made With and Trader Joe’s. They were sold at Costco, Aldi, KeHE, PCC Community Markets and Vital Choice Seafood stores in Arizona, Michigan, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Washington and Arkansas among others.

Foodborne Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is usually transmitted by the fecal-oral route – when an uninfected person consumes food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person. The CDC has reported more than 44,200 cases in at least 37 states since the outbreaks were first recognized in 2016.

Studies conducted in the late 90s showed the virus can survive for several hours on human hands and on indoor environmental surfaces for several days. The virus effectively resists inactivation by heat, gamma radiation and chemical germicides.

The Hepatitis A virus is very contagious and can spread from close contact with an infected person – through certain types of sexual contact, while caring for an infected person and using drugs with affected people. It can also spread from people who haven’t shown any symptoms.

Some of the symptoms of Hepatitis A include fatigue, sudden nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain or discomfort, clay-colored bowel movements, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, dark urine, joint pain, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eye and intense itching.

There is no specific treatment for the infection.

“You can get very sick but eventually clear the infection without treatment because, unfortunately, there is no treatment for hepatitis A,” said Dr. Stacey Rizza, executive medical director at Mayo Clinic. “In very rare cases, hepatitis A can kill you. You can actually go into fulminant liver failure, and if you don’t recover from the liver failure, you could die. That is a minority of the cases. Usually, people become very sick, can be very symptomatic, but eventually clear the infection themselves.”

5 cases of Hepatitis A were linked to frozen organic strawberries imported from certain farms in Baja California, Mexico
Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images