As of May 5, 2023, the U.S. is witnessing an outbreak of Hepatitis A, traced back to the consumption of frozen organic strawberries. A total of nine cases have been reported from three states: Washington, California, and Oregon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has been tracking this outbreak since its inception. The most recent case was reported on April 12, 20231.
The Outbreak: A Closer Look at the Numbers
The outbreak has resulted in a total of nine illnesses so far, with three of the victims requiring hospitalization. Fortunately, no deaths have been reported. The states affected include Washington (6 cases), California (2 cases), and Oregon (1 case)2.
The Source: Frozen Organic Strawberries
The FDA and CDC’s epidemiological data reveal a common link among the victims of the outbreak: frozen organic strawberries. All nine people who fell ill reported consuming these strawberries prior to their illness. Interestingly, the strain of Hepatitis A causing this outbreak is identical to the one that caused a similar outbreak in 2022, also linked to strawberries, suggesting a persistent issue with the fruit’s supply chain3.
The Culprits: Voluntary Recalls Initiated
In response to the outbreak, several companies have voluntarily recalled their frozen strawberry products. California Splendor, Inc. recalled certain lots of Kirkland Signature Frozen Organic Whole Strawberries sold at Costco stores in Los Angeles and Hawaii, as well as two San Diego business centers. Other companies that issued recalls include Scenic Fruit Company and Meijer. The recalled products were sold under multiple brand names and distributed to various retailers, including Costco, Aldi, KeHE, Vital Choice Seafood, and PCC Community Markets, and Trader Joe’s4.
Next Steps for Consumers
If you have symptoms of Hepatitis A, it is crucial to report them to your healthcare provider immediately. The FDA also encourages consumers to report any adverse events, including illnesses and serious allergic reactions, related to the consumption of these products. The FDA provides several ways for consumers to report these events, including calling an FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator or completing a Voluntary MedWatch form online or on paper5.
Stay tuned for more updates as this story unfolds.