How Can Strawberries Cause Hepatitis

Why do strawberries get hepatitis?

Investigation of the Outbreak – indicate that frozen organic strawberries, imported fresh from certain farms located in Baja California, Mexico in 2022, are the source of this outbreak. The hepatitis A virus strain causing illnesses in this outbreak is genetically identical to the strain that caused a, which was linked to fresh organic strawberries imported from Baja California, Mexico, and sold at various retailers.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the 2 to 7 weeks before they became ill. Of people who were interviewed, 9/9 (100%) reported eating frozen organic strawberries. This proportion was significantly higher than results from a of healthy people in which 24% reported eating frozen berries in the week before they were interviewed.

In response to this investigation, California Splendor, Inc. of San Diego, California certain lots of 4-lb. bags of Kirkland Signature Frozen Organic Whole Strawberries that were sold at Costco stores in Los Angeles, California; Hawaii; and two San Diego, California business centers.

  1. The lots subject to this recall include: 140962-08, 142222-23, 142792-54, 142862-57, 142912-59, 142162-20, 142202-21, 142782-53, 142852-56, 142902-58, 142212-22, 142232-24, 142842-55.
  2. In response to this investigation, Scenic Fruit Company of Gresham, Oregon frozen organic strawberries, sold to Costco, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, KeHE, Vital Choice Seafood, and PCC Community Markets in certain states.

Products subject to this recall include:

Multistate Outbreak of Hepatitis A Virus Infections – Brands Affected

Brand Name Product Name Net Wt. UPC Best By Date, Best If Use Date, Best Before Date Distributed in States
Simply Nature Organic Strawberries 24 oz. 4099100256222 6/14/2024 Arizona, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin
Vital Choice Organic Strawberries 16 oz. 834297005024 5/20/2024 Washington
Kirkland Signature Organic Strawberries 4 lbs. 96619140404 10/8/2024 Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington
Made With Organic Strawberries 10 oz. 814343021390 11/20/2024 Illinois, Maryland
PCC Community Markets Organic Strawberries 32 oz. 22827109469 29/10/2024 Washington
Trader Joe’s Organic Tropical Fruit Blend Pineapple, Bananas, Strawberries & Mango 16 oz. 00511919 04/25/24, 05/12/24, 05/23/24, 05/30/24, 06/07/24 Nationwide

On March 17, 2023, a retailer, Meijer, also issued press to Made-With brand frozen organic strawberries from certain market store locations. In response to this investigation, on June 7, 2023, Wawona Frozen Foods of Clovis, California, initiated a of year-old packages of Wawona brand Organic DayBreak Blend 4-lb.

Table depicting voluntary recall of year-old packages of Wawona brand Organic DayBreak Blend 4-lb. bags that were distributed to Costco Wholesale stores in Arizona, California, Colorado, Utah, and Washington from April 15, 2022, to June 26, 2022, with “Use By” dates of 9/23/2023, 9/29/2023, 9/30/2023, and 10/18/2023.

Best If Used By 09/23/2023 Best If Used By 09/29/2023 Best If Used By 09/30/2023 Best If Used By 10/18/2023
Affected Lot Codes: Affected Lot Codes: Affected Lot Codes: Affected Lot Codes:
20082D04 20088D04 20089D09 20108D04
20082D05 20088D05 20089D10 20108D05
20082D06 20088D06 20089D11 20108D06
20082D07 20088D07 20089D12 20108D07
20082D08 20088D08 20108D08

In response to this investigation, on June 12, 2023, Willamette Valley Fruit Co. of Salem, Oregon, select packages of frozen fruit containing strawberries distributed to the following retailers: Walmart (from January 24, 2023, to June 8, 2023), Costco Wholesale Stores (from October 3, 2022, to June 8, 2023), and HEB (from July 18, 2022, to June 8, 2023). Products subject to this recall include:

Table depicting products selected for voluntary recall

Retailer Product Name Net weight Lot Code Best By Date Distributed in States
Walmart Great Value Sliced Strawberries 4 lbs. 4018305 4019305 7/19/2024 7/20/2024 AR, AZ, CA, CO, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TX, UT, VA, WI, WV, WY
Great Value Mixed Fruit 4 lbs. 4024205 4025305 4032305 4033305 4034305 4035305 7/25/2024 7/26/2024 8/2/2024 8/3/2024 8/4/2024 8/5/2024
Great Value Antioxidant Fruit Blend 40 oz. 4032305 8/2/2024
Costco Wholesale Rader Farms Fresh Start Smoothie Blend 48 oz. bag containing six 8 oz. pouches 4224202 4313202 4314202 4363202 4364202 4017302 4018302 4042306 4043306 4060306 2/11/2024 5/10/2024 5/11/2024 6/29/2024 6/30/2024 7/18/2024 7/19/2024 8/12/2024 8/13/2024 8/30/2024 AZ, CA, CO, TX
HEB Rader Farms Organic Berry Trio 3 lbs. 4153205 4283202 4284202 4058302 4059302 12/02/2023 4/10/2024 4/11/2024 8/28/2024 8/29/2024 TX

FDA’s investigation is ongoing; additional products might be included in the future. : Multistate Outbreak of Hepatitis A Virus Infections Linked to Frozen Organic Strawberries

Why do berries carry hepatitis?

Why blueberries are making people sick Opinion: This is not the first time blueberries have given New Zealanders hepatitis. Dr Mark Thomas explains how it happens. How Can Strawberries Cause Hepatitis Frozen blueberries imported from Serbia have recently been implicated as the source of an outbreak of hepatitis A disease in New Zealand that has affected at least 13 people. This is not the first outbreak of hepatitis A caused by eating blueberries in New Zealand.

  1. An outbreak that affected 39 people in 2009 was due to consumption of raw blueberries that originated from a single New Zealand blueberry farm.
  2. Contamination was presumed to have occurred during picking or processing on the farm where there were inadequate toilet facilities for workers in the fields.

Another outbreak of hepatitis A, caused by imported frozen blueberries, that affected five people, occurred in New Zealand in 2015. In other countries blueberries have been identified as the source of illness caused by a range of other microbes that infect the intestines including listeria, salmonella, and escherichia coli.

  1. Hepatitis A virus exclusively infects humans, with infection almost always acquired by eating food or drinking liquids that have been contaminated with faeces from a person who themselves has relatively recently become infected.
  2. The disease is most common in parts of the world where there is poor sanitation and widespread consumption of untreated water.

Frozen berries were the most common identified cause of outbreaks of hepatitis A in the United States, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand during 2009-2019. In severely underdeveloped nations most children have been infected, and recovered with long-lasting immunity, by the age of 10.

The virus is not eliminated by sewage treatment but is inactivated in chlorinated water. Hepatitis A is a rare cause of disease in New Zealand, with fewer than 100 cases notified each year. A large proportion of cases have a history of recent overseas travel or have been in close contact with such people.

Illness usually occurs about two-six weeks after ingesting contaminated food or drink, and commonly lasts less than two months. Illness is usually more severe in older people than in young children. Common symptoms are tiredness, fever, nausea and loss of appetite.

  • The skin and the whites of the eyes may become yellow (jaundice) and the urine may become darker than usual.
  • Hepatitis A infection is usually diagnosed by detecting antibodies to the virus, and high levels of bilirubin and other molecules that indicate abnormal liver function, in the person’s blood.
  • There is no effective treatment, but mortality is rare, and a single episode of infection provides lifelong immunity.

The virus is present in the faeces of infected people from one to two weeks before the onset of symptoms until one week after the onset of symptoms. Frozen berries were the most common identified cause of outbreaks of hepatitis A in the United States, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand during 2009-2019.

  • Presumably hand picking of blueberries, which remains the usual method of harvesting, results in opportunities for people with hepatitis A infection to transfer the virus from their hands to the berries.
  • Most blueberries consumed in developed nations are fresh rather than frozen.
  • Hepatitis A virus can survive for months on contaminated surfaces at room temperature and freezing has little effect on the virus.

In contrast, heating hepatitis A virus to more than 85C for 60 seconds (which is below boiling point) will inactivate the virus and renders potentially contaminated berries perfectly safe. Berry season is coming up, but you shouldn’t be put off your berries.

  1. It has been extremely rare for berries produced in New Zealand to be unsafe to eat fresh.
  2. You are unlikely to need to boil the strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries that turn up in your local fruit shop and supermarket this summer.
  3. Of course, you could also find a place where you can pick your own – having thoroughly washed your hands before doing so.

You might be wise to get into the habit of boiling your frozen berries, especially if you are unsure of where they came from. It will only take minute, which will do little to affect the taste and texture of your average berry pie or smoothie.

Associate Professor Mark Thomas is an infectious diseases physician at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.This article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the views of Waipapa Taumata Rau University of Auckland.This article was first published on Newsroom,, 12 October 2022

Does washing fruit prevent hepatitis?

Food Safety Focus (105th Issue, April 2015) – Food Incident Highlight – In the first three months of 2015, the total number of hepatitis A cases reported locally increased to almost the same as the annual number recorded previously. is caused by hepatitis A virus (HAV) leading to inflammation of the liver cells.

In some places, outbreaks have been associated with the consumption of contaminated raw/ inadequately cooked shellfish (e.g. oysters) or fresh produce (e.g. berry fruits). HAV can be transmitted via contaminated food, water or environmental objects, and through direct or indirect person-to-person contact.

Furthermore, cross contamination and poor personal hygiene of food handlers may contribute to the spread of HAV. Foodborne hepatitis A infection could be prevented effectively by practising the ” Five Keys to Food Safety “. The public and the trade are advised to maintain proper hygiene personally and during food preparation to prevent cross contamination, and to obtain food ingredients from reliable sources.

How long can hepatitis live on fruit?

SURVIVAL AND TRANSFER OF HAV – HAV can readily survive freezing, persist in fresh or salt water for up to 12 months ( 12 ) and can retain its infectivity for a few days to weeks in dried feces ( 13 ). It is also quite resistant to many environmental conditions as well as physical and chemical agents ( 14, 15 ).

How do you get hepatitis A?

How is hepatitis A spread? – The hepatitis A virus is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected. The hepatitis A virus is spread when someone ingests the virus (even in amounts too small to see) through: ► Person-to-person contact Hepatitis A can be spread from close, personal contact with an infected person, such as through certain types of sexual contact (like oral-anal sex), caring for someone who is ill, or using drugs with others.

  • Hepatitis A is very contagious, and people can even spread the virus before they feel sick.
  • Eating contaminated food or drink Contamination of food with the hepatitis A virus can happen at any point: growing, harvesting, processing, handling, and even after cooking.
  • Contamination of food and water happens more often in countries where hepatitis A is common.

Although uncommon, foodborne outbreaks have occurred in the United States from people eating contaminated fresh and frozen imported food products.

What causes hepatitis A?

Overview – Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). The virus is primarily spread when an uninfected (and unvaccinated) person ingests food or water that is contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. The disease is closely associated with unsafe water or food, inadequate sanitation, poor personal hygiene and oral-anal sex.

Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A does not cause chronic liver disease but it can cause debilitating symptoms and rarely fulminant hepatitis (acute liver failure), which is often fatal. WHO estimates that in 2016, 7134 persons died from hepatitis A worldwide (accounting for 0.5% of the mortality due to viral hepatitis).

Hepatitis A occurs sporadically and in epidemics worldwide, with a tendency for cyclic recurrences. Epidemics related to contaminated food or water can erupt explosively, such as the epidemic in Shanghai in 1988 that affected about 300 000 people (1),

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