Washington [US], May 30 (ANI): The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urged customers to throw out any uneaten batches of organic strawberries as they may be the cause of the multistate outbreak of hepatitis A infections in the US and Canada.
Jennifer Hassan, writing in The Washington Post said that at least 17 cases were reported, out of which 15 were listed in California, the FDA said. At least 12 people had been hospitalized with the highly contagious virus that can cause fever, nausea, stomach pain and fatigue.
“Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not sell, serve, or eat any fresh organic strawberries branded as FreshKampo or HEB if purchased between March 5, 2022, and April 25, 2022,” the FDA wrote in a statement published Saturday.
The FDA said the potentially affected fruit had been sold nationwide in at least nine popular grocery chains, including Aldi, Safeway, Trader Joe’s and Walmart, adding that the strawberries were “a likely cause of illness in this outbreak.”
“Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may have symptoms of a hepatitis A infection after eating these fresh organic strawberries, or if you believe that you have eaten these strawberries in the last two weeks,” the statement read.
It was not immediately clear how the strawberries may have become infected. Hepatitis A is commonly contracted through the ingestion of contaminated food or water but can also be spread from person to person, according to information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported Hassan.
The illness can linger for several weeks and, in rare cases, can cause liver failure and death — although that is more common in people with liver disease or those older than 50, the CDC says.
The FDA said that the investigation into the infected strawberries was ongoing and that more products may be included as part of the advisory.
FreshKampo and HEB Grocery Co, based in Texas, could not be immediately reached for comment early Monday, reported The Washington Post.
According to the FDA, shellfish, raw vegetables and fruit are among the food items most frequently cited as potential foodborne sources of hepatitis A in the United States. Thorough hand-washing is encouraged to reduce the risk of illness.
Produce can become contaminated with hepatitis A if it is handled by someone with the infection who has not washed their hands properly, according to Britain’s National Health Service.
In the US, at least 37 states have recorded more than 44,000 cases of hepatitis A since 2016, leading to at least 420 deaths. Past outbreaks have been linked to products such as raw scallops, REPORTED The Washington Post. (ANI)