This news isn’t “berry” good if you like strawberries. A hepatitis A outbreak has resulted in at least five people infected and two people hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This, in turn, has left those selling certain brands of frozen organic strawberries in a bit of a jam. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has indicated that the likely culprits behind this outbreak are soft, juicy, and red. We’re talking about strawberries—not all strawberries, but those specifically imported in 2022 by a supplier from particular farms located in Baja California, Mexico. That’s led to two companies that used these strawberries in their frozen products and one retailer to issue voluntary recalls.
One of these companies is California Splendor, Inc., based in San Diego, California. They’ve recalled certain lots of their Kirkland Signature 4-lb. bag Frozen Organic Whole Strawberries that have been sold in Costco stores in Los Angeles and Hawaii, and two San Diego business centers. The other company is Scenic Fruit Company of Gresham, Oregon. Their recall of frozen organic strawberries includes the following following brands with the accompanying Best By Dates:
- Simply Nature, Organic Strawberries, Best By 06/14/2024
- Vital Choice, Organic Strawberries, BEST BY 05/20/2024
- Kirkland Signature, Organic Strawberries, Best If Used By 10/08/2024
- Made With, Organic Strawberries, Best Before 11/20/2024
- PCC Community Markets, Organic Strawberries, Best By 29/10/2024
- Trader Joe’s, Organic Tropical Fruit Blend with the following Best By dates: 04/25/24; 05/12/24; 05/23/24; 05/30/24; 06/07/24
Additionally, a third company, a retailer, Meijer, has issued a voluntarily recall of Made-With brand frozen organic strawberries specifically those with the Universal Product Code 8-14343-02139-0 and a “Best By” date of 11/20/2024. So if you’ve bought frozen organic strawberries over the past year, especially from Meijer, Costco, Aldi, KeHE, Vital Choice Seafood, PCC Community Markets, or Trader Joe’s, you may want to check your package—your package that contained the frozen organic strawberries, that is.
Now, hepatitis A is one A-lister that you want to avoid. The cause of hepatitis A is the hepatitis A virus, hence the name. This virus spread primarily through the fecal-oral route, which is a polite way of saying poop-to-mouth. Those infected with the hepatitis A virus can have the virus in their blood and stool. So, unless you are a vampire and suck other people’s blood or come into contact with blood products for any other reason, the most likely way of getting hepatitis A is through ingesting something contaminated with poop from an infected person.
“Hepatitis A is fun to have” is something that no one should say ever. That’s why the CDC recommends that all children at age one and adults at risk get the Hepatitis A vaccine. It’s much easier to get the vaccine than risk enjoying the experience of getting this piece of poop virus.
Not everyone infected with the virus ends up having symptoms. Symptoms do tend appear around two to seven weeks after the virus has gone down your hatch. The virus can cause inflammation in your liver which in turn can result in loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and abdominal pain. Since your liver plays a major role in processing bilirubin, the hepatitis can lead to jaundice and yellowing of your skin and eyes. It can also make your urine darker or your stool lighter than usual.
You could end up feeling sick for weeks or even months. While most people ultimately recover without any permanent damage to their liver, you could potentially in rare cases suffer liver failure or even death. Liver failure is not like eyebrow failure. You need your liver to live since it performs so many vital functions such as metabolizing toxins and waste products in your body.
Therefore, if you do have any of aforementioned recalled products get rid of them. And getting rid of them doesn’t mean feed them to your least favorite friends. Return the strawberry products to where you bought them for refund or at least dispose of them properly so that no one else can accidentally touch or eat them. You do want to be “berry” careful with any thing that may be contaminated with the hepatitis A virus.