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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Frozen strawberries recalled over hepatitis A risk

An undated photo provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shows bags of Simply Nature frozen strawberries. Certain frozen organic strawberries have been recalled amid a Food and Drug Administration investigation in connection with cases of hepatitis A.

By Joshua Needelman

Frozen organic strawberries sold at Costco, Aldi, Trader Joe’s and other retailers have been recalled after the products were linked to five cases of hepatitis A in Washington state, the Food and Drug Administration said.

The administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with state and local agencies, are investigating the cases, which included two people who were hospitalized.

“Consumers, restaurants and retailers should not sell, serve or eat recalled frozen strawberries,” the FDA said in a statement. “These recalled products should be returned or thrown away.”

Investigators found that five people who became ill and provided information about what they ate all reported to have consumed the strawberries, the FDA said.

The strain of hepatitis A is genetically identical to a strain that caused an outbreak of hepatitis A infections in 2022, which was linked to fresh organic strawberries also imported from Baja California, Mexico.

The two vendors in the latest cases, California Splendor and Scenic Fruit, sold the frozen strawberries to an array of retailers under several brand names, including Kirkland Signature, Made With, PCC Community Markets, Simply Nature, Trader Joe’s and Vital Choice, the FDA said.

“Although hepatitis A has not been detected on this product, out of an abundance of caution, consumers should stop consuming the product and return it to their local store for a refund,” Scenic Fruit said in a statement.

Scenic Fruit said it had ceased the production and distribution of the product as the FDA and the company investigate.

California Splendor, whose products had been sold at Costco stores in Hawaii, Los Angeles and two San Diego business centers, said in a statement that hepatitis A had not been detected in its products.

Costco said hepatitis A had not been detected in the products it sold but added that consumers should return them for a full refund. Aldi said it had no reported illnesses connected with the recalled products.

Trader Joe’s recalled its organic tropical fruit mix, which included frozen strawberries as well as frozen bananas, pineapples and mangos, but not its organic strawberries as an individual product.

“No illnesses have been reported to date, and all potentially affected product has been removed from sale and destroyed,” Trader Joe’s said in a statement. “If you purchased any Organic Tropical Fruit Blend, please do not eat it. We urge you to discard the product or return it to any Trader Joe’s for a full refund.”

Hepatitis A attacks the liver. Infection typically occurs within 15 to 50 days of ingesting contaminated food or water, and symptoms can include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, jaundice, dark urine and pale stool.

“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 health care professional to determine whether post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is needed,” the FDA said.

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