Hepatitis A is a very contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV), resulting in an inflammation of the liver.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state public health and regulatory officials such as the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are "investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A transmission linked to frozen organic strawberries imported from certain farms located in Baja California, Mexico, by a common supplier" (CDC, 2023).
Hepatitis A - As a Foodborne Illness
Hepatitis A is spread from ingestion of the hepatitis A virus found in the stool (feces) and blood of people who are infected with the virus. Or from eating food or drink contaminated with the hepatitis A virus (CDC, 2023).
"The hepatitis A virus strain causing illnesses in this outbreak is genetically identical to the strain that caused a foodborne hepatitis A outbreak in 2022, which was linked to fresh organic strawberries imported from Baja California, Mexico, and sold at various retailers" (CDC, 2023). "Frozen organic strawberries may be sold to a variety of retailers under multiple brand labels. Traceback and epidemiological investigations show that people with outbreak-associated cases purchased the same retail brand of frozen organic strawberries prior to becoming ill" (CDC, 2023).
As of May 5, 2023, there are: 9 outbreak-associated cases of hepatitis A reported from 3 states (California, Oregon, and Washington). These chain of illnesses began on November 24, 2022, ranging to April 12, 2023. There have been 3 people hospitalized (CDC, 2023) with no reported deaths.
ADVICE to FOLLOW for CONSUMERS - provided by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH)
Residents are urged to check their freezers for these recalled products and dispose of them or return them to the stores where they were purchased. Do not eat these products (Washington State Department of Health, 2023)!
- Kirkland Signature Organic Strawberries sold at Costco
- PCC Organic Frozen Strawberries sold at PCC Community Markets
- Vital Choice Frozen Organic Strawberries sold online at Vital Choice Seafood & Organics
- Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Tropical Fruit Blend sold at Trader Joe’s
Stay updated on FDA Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts listings here!
Symptoms and Responding Responsibly
Some of the symptoms of a hepatitis A virus infection are the following:
- Low appetite (not wanting to eat)
- Jaundice (yellow color to the whites of the eyes or skin)
- Upset stomach
- Feeling tired
- Dark urine or light-colored stools
Report any suspected case of hepatitis A infection or other foodborne illness to your local health department, and see a doctor if symptoms worsen!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, May 5). Organic strawberries hepatitis A outbreak. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/outbreaks/2023/hav-contaminated-food/index...
Washington State Department of Health. (2023, April 24). 2023 hepatitis A outbreak associated with frozen organic strawberries. Washington State Department of Health. https://doh.wa.gov/you-and-your-family/illness-and-disease-z/foodborne-i...