Organic strawberries behind hepatitis A outbreak

The FDA, the CDC, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in cooperation with their partner agencies, are investigating a cross-border outbreak of hepatitis A illnesses linked to organic strawberries.

A total of 27 outbreak cases have been confirmed in all, including ten in Canada and seventeen in the United States.

Canadian cases are reported in Alberta (4) and Saskatchewan (6), in individuals between 10 and 75 years of age. Four of the ten victims have been hospitalized.

Cases in the United States have occurred in California (15), Minnesota (1) and North Dakota (1), with 12 hospitalizations reported.

Illness onset dates range from March 28 to April 30, 2022 in the US, and between early and mid-April in Canada.

Patient interviews conducted in both countries linked the outbreak to consumption of fresh organic strawberries sold in the United States between March 5th and April 25th, and in Canada between March 5th and March 9th.

The strawberries, which have passed their shelf life, were sold in Co-op stores in Alberta and Saskatchewan and at the following retailers in the United States under FreshKampo and HEB brand names:

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

The strawberries were distributed across the United States, but only sold in the two Canadian provinces where hepatitis cases were reported.

Neither the FDA nor the PHAC have indicated in what country the strawberries were grown.

Consumers who may have frozen the strawberries for later use should check their freezer and throw away any suspect product.

What consumers should do

  • Check your freezer for these fresh organic strawberries purchased between March 5 and 9, 2022 at Co-op stores in Alberta and Saskatchewan or between March 5 and April 25th at one of the US retailers listed above. If you froze them to eat later, do not eat them. Throw away any remaining organic strawberries. If you don’t know where the strawberries came from, throw them out.
  • Wash and sanitize any drawers, shelves, or containers where the products were stored using a kitchen sanitizer (follow the directions on the container) or prepare a bleach solution in a labelled spray bottle (you can use a ratio of 5 ml of household bleach to 750 ml of water) and rinse with water.
  • If you have eaten these organic strawberries, purchased fresh and later frozen, or have symptoms consistent with hepatitis A, see your health care provider immediately. Vaccination can prevent a hepatitis A infection if given within 14 days of exposure.
  • Wash your hands before and after preparing or eating food, and after using the washroom or changing diapers.
  • If you have been diagnosed with hepatitis A, do not prepare or serve food and drinks to others.

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