By SDCN Editor
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A that is possibly linked to two brands of organic strawberries that were sold at several retailers in the U.S. and Canada.
A total of 17 illnesses linked to the strawberries were reported in the U.S., according to the FDA.
The agency’s local partners are also investigating a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A infections in the United States and Canada potentially linked to fresh organic strawberries branded as FreshKampo and H-E-B, purchased between March 5 and April 25.
The traceback investigations show that cases in California, Minnesota, and Canada report having purchased fresh organic strawberries prior to becoming ill. Illness onset dates range from March 28 to April 30.
“The potentially affected FreshKampo and H-E-B products are past shelf life, according to the FDA. Consumers who purchased FreshKampo and H-E-B fresh organic strawberries between March 5 and April 25, 2022, and then froze those strawberries for later consumption should not eat them,” the FDA said in a statement posted on their website.
The products were sold at the following retailers, including, but not limited to Aldi, H-E-B, Kroger, Safeway, Sprouts Farmers Market, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Weis Markets, and WinCo Foods.
HEB grocery, a supermarket chain based in San Antonio, Texas released a statement regarding the outbreak:
“All strawberries sold at H-E-B are safe. No illnesses from strawberries related to the FDA investigation have been reported at H-E-B or in Texas. The FDA is conducting an investigation into organic strawberries sold between March 5 and April 25, 2022. H-E-B has not received or sold organic strawberries from the supplier under investigation since April 16.”
The FDA said consumers who purchased FreshKampo or H-E-B Organic strawberries between those dates should throw them away or return the products to the place of purchase.
Anyone unsure of what brand of strawberries they purchased, or where they purchased them from prior to freezing the fruit, should throw them away, the FDA said.
Consumers who purchased the organic strawberries branded as FreshKampo or HEB between March 5 and April 25 ate those berries in the last two weeks, and have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A, should immediately consult with their healthcare professional to determine whether post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is needed. PEP is recommended for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus in the last two weeks because vaccination can prevent a hepatitis A infection if given within 14 days of exposure. Those with evidence of previous hepatitis A vaccination or previous hepatitis A infection does not require PEP.
It is recommended that consumers contact their healthcare provider if they think they may have symptoms of a hepatitis A infection after eating these fresh organic strawberries, or if they believe that they have eaten these strawberries in the last two weeks.