FDA Launches Probe After Strawberries That Went on Sale Nationwide Trigger Hepatitis A Outbreak; 17 Sick,12 Hospitalized

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are examining an outbreak of hepatitis A infections in the United States and Canada. This outbreak is being potentially linked to FreshKampo and HEB branded fresh organic strawberries purchased between March 5 and April 25.

The FDA on its website announced that the strawberries in question have passed their expiration dates and further advised the people who froze the strawberries for later consumption to get rid of them immediately. If there is uncertainty regarding when and where the purchase was done from, then also the strawberries should be disposed off.

FDA Hepatitis A

"If you are unsure of what brand you purchased, when you purchased your strawberries, or where you purchased them from prior to freezing them, the strawberries should be thrown away," the FDA said.

With 17 people sick, till now 12 have been hospitalized in the US. According to the agency data the strawberries were sold at retailers nationwide, including Aldi, HEB, Kroger, Safeway, Sprouts Farmers Market, Trader Joe's, Walmart, Weis Market and WinCo Foods.

"The traceback investigations show that cases in California, Minnesota, and Canada report having purchased fresh organic strawberries branded as FreshKampo or HEB prior to becoming ill," the FDA announcement mentioned.

While Hepatitis A is mostly understood to be a short-term infection that gets better with time, in few rare cases the infection can lead to liver failure and even call for an emergency liver transplant to survive. As per the CDC, the infection is contagious and its symptoms can last up to two months, these include fatigue, nausea, stomach pain as well as jaundice.

FDA Hepatitis A

The virus can also be contracted through food or water consumption if proper hand-washing hygiene has not been followed by an infected food handler.

According to Wall Street Journal, HEB in an official statement on its website said that their strawberries are safe for consumption as the company has not received or sold any strawberries from their supplier since April 16. "No illnesses from strawberries related to the FDA investigation have been reported at H-E-B or in Texas," the company said.

FreshKampo, on the other hand announced that it is actively working with the FDA to trace the origins of the problem.

The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are also conducting investigations for the same and have advised that anyone who experiences even mild symptoms of the Hepatitis A infection should immediately seek consultation from a health professional.