Recall alert: Frozen strawberries linked to Hepatitis A

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a nationwide recall on frozen strawberries and strawberry products based on reports of hepatitis A detected.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reports that as of October 20, 134 people have contracted hepatitis A linked to the tainted strawberries. The outbreak has been reported in nine different states, including Virginia. The origins of the strawberries link back to Egypt, and were sold by the International Company for Agricultural Production and Processing (ICAPP).

These strawberries were exclusively used by restaurants and other food service establishments, and were never offered for retail sale to the public. 

The FDA has learned that the recalled frozen strawberry products include -- but are not limited to -- whole, sliced and sugared, and diced strawberries, which may have been served in food service operations as recently as October 27.

According to a CDC report, 129 of the cases reported eating a smoothing containing strawberries from Tropical Smoothie Cafe. However, five cases reported no exposure to Tropical Smoothie Cafe, with the latest illness onset date being among these cases, occurring on October 1st.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe has reported to the CDC that they removed strawberries from their cafes nationwide and switched to a different provider. The CDC does not believe there is further risk of infection involving the restaurant chain.

On October 25, the ICAPP recalled all frozen strawberries and strawberry products that had been imported to the United States since January 1, 2016. 

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from a hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection. According to the FDA, illness occurs within 15 to 50 days of exposure and symptoms include yellowing skin and eyes, fatigue, abdominal pain, dark urine and pale stools.

The Virginia Department of Health reports that as of October 20, 2016, 107 Virginia residents who had tested positive for hepatitis A reported consuming a smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Cafe prior to becoming ill. Approximately 35 percent of the residents, for whom information is available, have been hospitalized for their illness. The 107 ill residents range in age from 14-70. Onsets of illness for the 107 cases range from early May through September.

The CDC states that overall, 52 people have been hospitalized and zero deaths have been reported.


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