Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries: Frozen Berry Blend and Hepatitis A?
It’s summertime and although we have fresh berries at our fingertips, nothing beats the convenience of frozen berries. Perfect for smoothies, pie or a cool snack on a hot day, frozen berries are versatile and delicious. And yet, as with any packaged fruit or vegetable we trust is safe for consumption, there is always the risk of contamination that comes with convenience. And with this frozen berry blend recall, it’s the possible exposure to hepatitis A.
Kroger marketplaces have issued a recall on their Private Selection brand of “Triple Berry Medley” produced by Townsend Farms as hepatitis A may be part of the mix. Both 48 oz. and 16 oz. berry blend packages as well as the 16 oz. bag of frozen blackberries are part of the recall which reaches a multitude of grocery stores we all frequent. The Kroger name is behind popular stores like QFC, Pick n’ Save, Metro Market and Fred Meyer, to name just a few. Shelves have been cleared of this product but for those already having purchased this potentially contaminated product- stores are doing their best to alert customers.
Although there is no confirmation of any illness related to this frozen berry blend thus far, hepatitis A symptoms can take 2-7 weeks to surface and in some cases, typically in the case of a child, there are no symptoms at all. * In most cases, however, symptoms appear quickly and are quite severe.
Symptoms can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Joint pain and Jaundice (yellow tint to eyes and skin)
Although hepatitis A is generally not as severe as hepatitis B or C, both of which can cause chronic disease, there is the risk of severe, lengthy illness including hospitalization, liver damage and even death. More typically, however, is temporary illness lasting for several days to a few weeks.
Hepatitis A is easily transmitted when good hygiene is not practiced. Failing to wash hands thoroughly after using the restroom, changing a diaper, coming into direct contact with someone infected with hepatitis A can easily and silently transmit this disease to you and others you come into contact with. The hepatitis A virus can survive for several weeks, even months, on surfaces. In cases of food exposure- as has potentially occurred in the Private Selection frozen berry blend, contamination can occur at any point in the process of growing the fruit to packaging of it. According to the CDC, there can be exposure during harvesting, processing, handling or during cooking. (2) And, usually, poor hygiene or poor sanitary conditions are present.
As we blend and mix and top our summer favorites with frozen berries, we should enjoy the sweet bursts of flavor but be ever mindful of the risks at hand. One way to mitigate the risk and prevent a summer disaster is to consider vaccination. According to the CDC, (2) the vaccination for hepatitis A is both safe and effective. Involving only 2 shots, received 6-months apart, you gain long-term protection and invaluable peace of mind.