Frozen Fruits Linked To Hepatitis Outbreak
Gresham, OR-based Scenic Fruit Company has recalled its frozen "Organic Strawberries” sold at Costco, Aldi, KeHE, Vital Choice Seafood and PCC Community Markets, as well as frozen “Organic Tropical Fruit Blend” sold at Trader Joe’s, due to an outbreak of hepatitis A illnesses. Five outbreak-associated cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Washington since March 13th. The five cases occurred between November 11th and December 27th of last year, and two individuals required hospitalization. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone reported eating frozen organic strawberries.
While no patients with hepatitis A have been reported in Oregon, the origin of this outbreak has been definitively linked to the consumption of these products. Oregon Health Authority officials are monitoring the outbreak in Washington. According to the Oregon Department of Ag the recall of these products is voluntarily and they are cooperating with the FDA. In addition, OHA is interviewing persons diagnosed with hepatitis A to determine if any have consumed frozen berries.
“Since these products were available in Oregon stores, we want to let people know about them so they can take steps to protect themselves and their families,” said Ann Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., a public health physician in OHA’s Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention Section. “At this point, OHA is carefully investigating any new cases of hepatitis A virus to determine if they are associated with the outbreak, but we have not yet been able to link any Oregon cases to these products.”
The following products are subject to this recall:
|Brand Name||Product Name||Net Weight||UPC||Best By Date||Distributed in States|
|Simply Nature||Organic Strawberries||24 oz.||4099100256222||6/14/2024||Arizona, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin|
|Vital Choice||Organic Strawberries||16 oz.||834297005024||5/20/2024||Washington|
|Kirkland Signature||Organic Strawberries||4 lbs.||96619140404||10/8/2024||Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington|
|Made With||Organic Strawberries||10 oz.||814343021390||11/20/2024||Illinois, Maryland|
|PCC Community Markets||Organic Strawberries||32 oz.||22827109469||29/10/2024 (as printed on package)||Washington|
|Trader Joe’s||Organic Tropical Fruit Blend Pineapple, Bananas, Strawberries & Mango||16 oz.||00511919||04/25/24, 05/12/24, 05/23/24, 05/30/24, 06/07/24||Nationwide|
The company has ceased the production and distribution of the product as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the company continue their investigation into what caused the problem. In addition, the company is removing all inventories of the affected lot from sale.
“The company is voluntarily recalling the affected products and cooperating with the FDA,” said Karel Smit, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Program manager. “The purpose of the recall is to remove the products from commerce and prevent the public from consuming potentially affected products.”
Since 2014, Oregon has seen an average of 20 cases a year, with 2020 having the highest number at 29. Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), tiredness, stomach pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (frequent watery bowel movements), dark urine, and light-colored bowel movements. The disease varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting four to six weeks or longer. Hepatitis A infection can result in hospitalization. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice and may have a mild illness that can go unnoticed. However, even mildly ill people can be highly infectious. People with symptoms suggestive of hepatitis should consult a physician immediately, even if symptoms are mild.
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