Strawberries likely caused the hepatitis A epidemic, the FDA says

FreshKampo and HEB branded strawberry packages are likely linked to more than a dozen recent cases of hepatitis A in California, federal food regulators said.

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and state and local partners, are investigating a multistatal outbreak of hepatitis A infections in the states United and
Canada potentially linked to fresh and organic strawberries with the FreshKampo or HEB labels and purchased between March 5, 2022 and April 25, 2022.

“If you are unsure which brand you bought, when you bought the strawberries or where you bought them from before freezing them, the strawberries should be thrown away,” the FDA said in a warning notice.

Strawberries have also been sold by HEB, Kroger, Safeway, Sprouts Farmers, Trader Joe’s, Weis Markets, and WinCo Foods, according to regulators. The FDA has received reports of 17 cases of hepatitis A in the United States since strawberries hit store shelves and a dozen people have been hospitalized. Most of the cases have occurred in California, but the FDA has also reported one case in both Minnesota and North Dakota.

No deaths have been reported, according to the agency. He said the strawberries under investigation “are a probable cause of disease in this outbreak.” The FDA investigation is ongoing, so other products could be linked to hepatitis cases.

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HEB said it has not received or sold the strawberries under investigation since April 16. The Texas-based grocer said his strawberries are safe, but said shoppers should throw away any organic strawberries they bought between March 5 and April 25.

“No disease caused by strawberries linked to the FDA investigation has been reported to the HEB or Texas,” the company said in a statement Sunday.

FreshKampo is a Mexico-based fruit and vegetable grower and distributor. The company could not be reached on Monday for comment.

Hepatitis A is a contagious but treatable virus that infects the liver, causing it to swell and malfunction. Most people get the virus from contaminated food or water.

Anyone who has already eaten the harmful strawberries should see a doctor immediately and ask for a hepatitis vaccine, the FDA said.

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