Frozen strawberries linked to hepatitis A outbreak

KUSA – The U.S Food and Drug Administration has learned that some frozen strawberry products have been recalled by The International Company for Agriculture Production and Processing due to a possible link to a hepatitis A outbreak.

The products being recalled include, but are not limited to whole, sliced and sugared and diced frozen strawberries that may have been served in food service operations as recently as Oct. 27.

Products being recalled include:

  • Sysco brand sliced, sugar added or Whole IQF strawberries
  • Jetro/Restaurant Depot “James Farm” brand or unbranded “Bits and Pieces” IQF Recipe Ready diced, Whole IQF or sliced with sugar strawberries.
  • Reddy Raw Regal brand sliced strawberries 4+1
  • Patagonia brand strawberries IQF
  • CH BELT and Associates C.H Worlds brand whole, whole smoothie select and diced strawberries.

The FDA, CDC and local officials are investigating hepatitis A infections linked to the strawberries in smoothies served in Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurant location.

There are two restaurants in Centennial and one in Fort Collins, according to their website.

As of Oct. 20, the CDC says 134 people with hepatitis A linked to the outbreak have been reported from nine states: Arkansas, California, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Oregon, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. There have been no reported cases in Colorado.

Of the reported cases, 129 people said they ate a smoothie with strawberries from Tropical Smoothie Cafe. There have been no illnesses reported from this exposure since Sept. 23.

Five cases had no exposure to Tropical Smoothie Cafe. The last reported illness was on Oct. 1.

The FDA traced the strawberries served at the restaurant to Egypt. The company says all strawberries imported from Egypt have been taken out of their stores.

The FDA recommends that places that served any products by the recalled companies who have not already been notified by their supplier should immediately reach out to their supplier and find out if they received any of the recalled strawberries.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease and can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting months. The disease is usually spread through fecal matter.

Contamination can occur when an infected food handler prepares food without appropriate hand hygiene. Food, as is suspected in this outbreak, or water contaminated with the disease can also cause outbreaks of disease.

The illness usually occurs within 15 to 50 days of exposure and includes symptoms of fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, dark urine, pale stool and abnormal liver tests.

At this time, the CDC does not have information to suggest there is an ongoing risk of hepatitis A at Tropical Smoothie Cafe. If you think you’ve gotten sick from eating a smoothie with strawberries, contact your healthcare provider.

Copyright 2016 KUSA

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