Five people have fallen ill during the outbreak, the FDA said.
According to the U.S. Federal Drug Administration, which announced a recall this week, 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.
Five people have fallen ill with confirmed or probable cases, including two hospitalized, during the outbreak, the FDA said Friday. Three confirmed and two probable cases were reported in Washington state.
In all cases, people reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that they had eaten frozen organic strawberries that were eventually determined to have been imported last year from farms in Baja California, Mexico, and sold to various retailers under multiple brand names. .
In addition, the strain of hepatitis A virus causing illness this year is genetically identical to the strain that caused the 2022 hepatitis A virus infection outbreak, which was matched 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 voluntarily recalled certain batches of frozen strawberries this week, the FDA said.
California Splendor has recalled 4-lb. bags of Kirkland Signature Frozen Organic Whole Strawberries sold at Costco stores in Los Angeles and Hawaii, and two business centers in San Diego.
Scenic Fruit has recalled certain frozen organic strawberries sold to Costco, Aldi, KeHE, Vital Choice Seafood and PCC Community Markets in specific states, as well as frozen organic tropical blends sold to Trader Joe’s across the country.
Information on the products affected by both recalls can be found here.
Both companies noted in their recall announcements that hepatitis A was not found on the products, but “as a precaution” consumers should stop consuming the recalled items and return them to their local retailer for a refund. The companies said they ceased production and distribution of the affected products while investigating the outbreak.
“As this research is ongoing, additional products may be included,” the FDA said.
Hepatitis A is an infectious liver disease caused by exposure to the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms usually appear within 15 to 20 days of exposure after eating or drinking contaminated food or water and include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine, and pale stools.
Illness can last several weeks to several months if severe. In rare cases, hepatitis A infection can progress to liver failure – those who have pre-existing serious illness or a weakened immune system are most at risk.
Individuals who have eaten the recalled organic frozen strawberries in the past two weeks and 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.