March 19, 2023 – A nationwide recall of organic frozen strawberry products is underway. The FDA is advising people who ate the products to get vaccinated against hepatitis A to prevent liver infection and symptoms like nausea and jaundice.
The recalled products were sold at major retailers including Trader Joe’s, Costco, and ALDI, plus other regional retailers and suppliers.
Five cases of hepatitis A in Washington state are linked to eating frozen strawberries, the FDA has warned. Two of the people were hospitalized. The illnesses started between Nov. 24, 2022, and Dec. 27, 2022, according to the CDC. The five people who were sickened all reported eating frozen strawberries and ranged in age from 38 to 61 years old.
“Traceback and epidemiological investigations show that people with outbreak-associated cases in Washington purchased the same retail brand of frozen organic strawberries prior to becoming ill,” the CDC investigation report stated.
The two strawberry suppliers whose products are being recalled are California Splendor and Scenic Fruit, which sold products under a variety of brand names. Brand labels included in the recall are Kirkland Signature, Simply Nature, Vital Choice, Made With, PCC Community Markets, and Trader Joe’s Tropical Fruit Blend.
Recalled products can be identified by their “best by” dates, which range from April 25, 2024, to November 20, 2024, or by lot codes printed on the package. A full recall list is located on the FDA website.
All the strawberries in the recalled products were sourced from Baja California, Mexico. Last year, Baja California-grown strawberries were also linked to a hepatitis A outbreak that is the identical strain of the virus found in this latest outbreak.
People who have eaten recalled products within the last 14 days should contact their local health department or health care provider to discuss getting a vaccine or antibody treatment to prevent illness, the CDC advises. Hepatitis A symptoms can take 2 to 7 weeks to appear and can last a few weeks to several months, although not everyone will have symptoms. In addition to nausea and yellowing of the skin, people may experience decreased appetite, upset stomach, vomiting, fever, darkened urine or lightened stools, joint pain, diarrhea, or fatigue.
In a statement, Trader Joe’s explained to customers that its Tropical Fruit Blend product “may have the potential to be contaminated with Hepatitis A,” but said no illnesses have been reported.
A letter addressed to Costco members read, “Although Hepatitis A has not been detected in this product, out of an abundance of caution, consumers should stop consuming the food and return it to their local Costco for a full refund.”
In a statement, ALDI explained it had pulled affected products from its shelves and offered refunds, adding that “according to the latest information we have, there are no reported illnesses related to the recalled product.”