Strawberries are likely to cause hepatitis A outbreak, says FDA

FreshKampo and HEB strawberry packs are likely linked to more than a dozen recent cases of hepatitis A in California, federal food regulators said.

The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, jointly funded by the Canadian Public Health Agency, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and state and local partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A infections in the US and
Canada potentially linked to fresh, organic strawberries with the FreshKampo or HEB labels and purchased between March 5, 2022 and April 25, 2022.

“If you are not sure which brand you bought, when you bought your strawberries or where you bought them before freezing them, the strawberries should be discarded,” the FDA said in a warning .

The strawberries were also sold at HEB, Kroger, Safeway, Sprouts Farmers, Trader Joe’s, Weis Markets and WinCo Foods, according to supervisors. The FDA has received reports of 17 hepatitis A cases in the US since the strawberries hit store shelves, and a dozen people have been hospitalized. Most cases were in California, but the FDA also reported one case in both Minnesota and North Dakota.

In Canada, 10 cases of hepatitis A and four hospitalizations have been reported linked to the strawberries, according to The Associated Press.

No deaths were reported, according to the bureau. It said the strawberries being investigated “are a likely cause of disease in this epidemic.” FDA investigation is ongoing so other products may be linked to hepatitis cases.

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HEB said it has not received or sold the strawberries examined since April 16. The Texas retailer maintained that its strawberries were safe, but said customers should dispose of all organic strawberries purchased between March 5 and April 25.

“No strawberry diseases related to the FDA investigation have been reported at HEB or in Texas,” the company said in a statement Sunday.

FreshKampo is a Mexico-based grower and distributor of fruits and vegetables. The company could not be reached for comment Monday.

Hepatitis A is a contagious but treatable virus that infects the liver, causing it to swell and become malignant. Most people catch the virus from contaminated food or water.

Anyone who has already eaten the harmful strawberries should immediately see a doctor and ask about a hepatitis vaccine, the FDA said.

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