US health alert: Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen organic strawberries

The strawberries came from farms in Baja California, Mexico

US health alert: Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen organic strawberries
Photo by engin akyurt / Unsplash

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A associated with frozen organic strawberries from Baja California, Mexico.

This outbreak has generated concern due to the cases of hepatitis A reported after consuming these products.

The outbreak of hepatitis A and the identified cases

According to an FDA statement, nine cases of hepatitis A related to frozen organic strawberries have been identified. These cases were recorded between February and April of this year, and three of them required hospitalization.

The research focuses on strawberries sold in bags, some of which were mixed with other fruits. The affected states include Oregon, Colorado, Texas, California and Arizona.

Companies involved and measures taken

The FDA has identified additional companies that could have received potentially contaminated products and is working in collaboration with them to ensure that the products are withdrawn from the market.

One of the companies, Willamette Valley Fruit Co. of Salem, Oregon, has initiated a voluntary recall of select packages of frozen fruit products containing strawberries grown in Mexico due to the possibility of hepatitis A contamination. Other companies involved in federal research are Wawona Frozen Foods, California Splendor and Scenic Fruit.

Origin of strawberries and relationship with previous buds

The FDA's tracking investigation has identified a common supplier of frozen organic strawberries. These strawberries were imported from specific farms located in Baja California, Mexico, in 2022.

It is important to note that the strain of the hepatitis A virus that caused the outbreak this year is genetically identical to the strain that caused a similar outbreak in 2022. In that case, the fresh organic strawberries imported from Baja California, Mexico, and sold at several retailers were linked to the outbreak.

Information about hepatitis A and its symptoms

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that is acquired by exposure to the virus of the same name. Symptoms can range from a mild illness that lasts a few weeks to a serious illness that lasts for months.

Some of the common symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stools. In rare cases, especially in people with pre-existing serious diseases or with weakened immune systems, hepatitis A infection can progress to liver failure.

In addition to following the FDA's recommendations and staying informed about the hepatitis A outbreak related to frozen organic strawberries, there are some additional measures you can take to protect yourself and your family:

1. Buy food from reliable sources: When buying fruits and vegetables, be sure to do it in recognized and reputable establishments. Check the origin of the products and prefer those that come from trusted suppliers.

2. Properly wash fruits and vegetables: Before consuming any fresh product, especially those that are consumed raw, be sure to wash them thoroughly with running water. Use a soft brush to rub the surfaces and remove any possible contaminants.

3. Freeze products at home: If you prefer to enjoy frozen fruits, consider buying fresh fruits and freezing them at home. This will allow you to have greater control over the quality and hygiene of the food you eat.

4. Maintain good personal hygiene: Wash your hands with soap and water before handling food and after going to the bathroom. Avoid touching your face, mouth or eyes without having previously washed your hands. These simple measures help prevent the spread of diseases.

5. Consult a doctor if you have symptoms: If you experience symptoms such as fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice or other liver-related symptoms after having consumed frozen organic strawberries, seek medical attention immediately. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are essential for a speedy recovery.