Grower says organic strawberries linked to hepatitis A outbreak were from Mexico

Public health officials have found that fresh organic strawberries linked to hepatitis A outbreaks in the United States and Canada were imported from Mexico.

Investigators in the United States and Canada are continuing to work to find additional details about the outbreaks linked to the organic berries from Mexico-based FreshKampo. As of May 31, there were 17 confirmed illnesses — 15 in California and one each in Minnesota and North Dakota — and 12 hospitalizations in the United States, according to the Food and Drug Administration. In Canada, 10 patients have been identified with four of them requiring hospitalization.

The implicated organic strawberries are beyond their shelf life, but public health authorities are concerned that some consumers may have frozen them for future use. Freezing does not kill the hepatitis A virus.

“People who purchased FreshKampo and HEB fresh organic strawberries between March 5, 2022, and April 25, 2022, and then froze those strawberries for later consumption should not eat them,” according to the FDA.

FreshKampo, which is based in Mexico, said in a statement Sunday that it is working with regulators to determine how the problem occurred. FreshKampo said the label on the containers of affected strawberries would have said “Product of Mexico” or “Distributed by Meridien Foods.”

Hepatitis A is a virus that can cause liver disease and, in rare cases, liver failure and death. Illness usually occurs within 15 to 50 days after eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and jaundice.

Consumers who ate the potentially affected berries in the last two weeks and have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A should immediately consult with a physician, the FDA said. Also, consumers who ate any of the implicated berries should monitor themselves for symptoms of hepatitis A for the coming weeks because it can take up to 50 days for symptoms to develop.

These products were sold at the following retailers, including, but not limited to:

  • Aldi
  • HEB
  • Kroger
  • Safeway
  • Sprouts Farmers Market
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Walmart
  • Weis Markets
  • WinCo Foods
  • Canadian Co-op

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