On the 5th of May, 2023, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced there had been an increase in the number of Hepatitis A illnesses linked to frozen strawberries.
Back in March California Splendor Inc. voluntarily recalled their Kirkland Signature Organic Frozen Strawberries due to the possibility one of their products, frozen strawberries to be specific, was contaminated with Hepatitis A and suspected to have caused human illnesses. The next month, two Hepatitis A hospitalizations had been confirmed, with a total of 7 ill individuals. The number of hospitalizations in the Hepatitis A outbreak caused by frozen strawberries has now reached 3 with the sum of confirmed illnesses in the Hepatitis A outbreak reaching nine.
Six of the reported cases occurred in the State of Washington, two in California and one in Oregon. No deaths have been reportedly linked to the Hepatitis A frozen strawberries outbreak as of May 8th, 2023.
According to the United States Food & Drug Administration, the contagious liver disease, Hepatitis A Virus (HAV), “…results from exposure to the Hepatitis A virus, including from food. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Illness generally occurs within 15 to 50 days of exposure and includes fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool. In rare cases, particularly consumers who have a pre-existing severe illness or are immune compromised, Hepatitis A infection can progress to liver failure.” T
he 9 infected individuals were reported to have experienced one or more of the above-listed Hepatitis A symptoms.
If experiencing such symptoms, particularly in the weeks after consuming frozen strawberries, customers should contact their personal healthcare provider, as the illness can progress quickly into forced hospitalization if left untreated. Consumers should also alert their local health safety officials for the safety of the public. Since many people with HAV do not get the proper testing done, many more victims might have acquired HAV and simply do not know they have.
According to Anthony Coveny, Ph.D., a food safety attorney, “people who are exposed to HAV have about two weeks to get vaccinated if they want to prevent a full-blown case of HAV. Many younger Americans are already vaccinated, so the most vulnerable are the elderly, immigrants, and the very young.”
For more information on the ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries, individuals may contact the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Industry and Consumer Assistance page.