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Two brands of organic strawberries sold in numerous grocery stores may be linked to a multi-state outbreak of hepatitis A.
Investigators from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that contaminated strawberries imported from Baja California in Northern Mexico are likely to blame for the hepatitis A illnesses in California and Minnesota. That conclusion is based on epidemiologic and traceback data.
Potentially Tainted Strawberries Sold Nationwide
The strawberries in question were sold under the brands FreshKampo and HEB. Strawberries purchased between March 5 and April 25, 2022, should not be eaten. Throw away any strawberries purchased during that timeframe that you put in your freezer for later use.
Discard any strawberries if you are unsure of the brand or the date of your purchase.
Retailers selling the affected strawberries are as follows:
- Sprouts Farmers Market
- Trader Joe’s
- Weis Market
- WinCo Foods
Individuals purchased FreshKampo brand fresh organic strawberries prior to becoming ill. The onset of their illness occurred between March 28 and April 30. At least 17 illnesses and 12 hospitalizations have been recorded and linked to these strawberries so far in the U.S.
Additional products may be included as the investigation continues to unfold.
Foodborne illness outbreaks caused by hepatitis A are not common in the U.S. When illness does occur, the culprits are more likely to be water, shellfish, raw vegetables, and fresh fruit.
Hepatitis A Symptoms and Long-Term Impacts
Hepatitis A is a contagious virus that can cause liver disease. Symptoms range from mild to severe, lasting a few weeks to several months.
Symptoms usually occur within 15 to 50 days of drinking or eating contaminated food or water. Signs of hepatitis A infection include the following:
- Abdominal Pain
- Dark Urine
- Pale Stool
Some hepatitis A infections are asymptomatic.
Most people recover within a few weeks. Severe cases can lead to chronic infection and cause relapses. Chronic hepatitis A may lead to liver failure and death.
Recommendations for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
If you have eaten strawberries in the last two weeks that are included in the FDA warning, you should speak to your doctor about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Anyone who has not been vaccinated against hepatitis A should consider PEP to help prevent a hepatitis A infection. PEP must be completed within two weeks of exposure.
PEP consists of the following:
- Hepatitis A vaccine for people between the ages of 1 and 40 years
- Hepatitis A virus-specific immunoglobulin (IG) for people outside of this age range, but the hepatitis A vaccine can be substituted if IG is not available.
Those with a previous vaccination or confirmed previous hepatitis A illness do not require PEP.
What Is a Foodborne Illness Outbreak?
When at least two people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink, the event is called a foodborne illness outbreak.
The FDA issues alerts to the American public in hopes of reducing the number of people who fall ill. The investigation of the outbreak helps the FDA learn how to prevent similar outbreaks from happening in the future.
FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Network manages the outbreak response. The network also oversees post-response activities related to incidents involving multiple illnesses linked to FDA-regulated human food, dietary supplements, and cosmetic products.
Recovering Damages for Serious Illness
If you become seriously ill by eating contaminated food, you may have grounds to sue. A successful suit requires the plaintiff to prove the food was defective and unreasonably dangerous. Evidence must show that the food caused the illness.
Lost wages and expensive medical care are all costs that should be paid by the party responsible. Serious illness often includes the expense of long-term care and medications. Our seasoned legal team at Dermer Appel Ruder, LLC has more than 80 years of combined experience in fighting for the rights of Georgians.