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Urgent strawberry recall: FDA says these berries caused an outbreak of hepatitis A

Published May 30th, 2022 9:02AM EDT
A bowl of fresh ripe strawberries with blueberries in the background.
Image: MSPhotographic/Adobe

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After the norovirus-carrying raspberries from a few days ago, you should be on the lookout for a massive strawberry recall. These berries might be associated with an outbreak of hepatitis A infections that occurred in the US and Canada. In total, nearly 30 people got the virus after eating FreshKampo and HEB strawberries.

The FreshKampo and HEB strawberries recall

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced an outbreak investigation connected to fresh organic strawberries coming from FreshKampo and HEB.

The FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and other state and local agencies are investigating a multistate outbreak.

The agency says the FreshKampo and HEB strawberries are past their shelf life. You won’t find them in stores. That’s why the outbreak investigation announcement isn’t a full recall announcement. However, customers bought the berries between March 5th, 2022 and April 25th, 2022. But some consumers might still have frozen strawberries from these companies.

The two strawberry brands from this recall were available from various retailers.

The stores that sold the recalled strawberries include:

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

The FDA explains that epidemiologic and traceback showed that FreshKampo and HEB strawberries are a likely cause of the hepatitis A outbreak. So far, the FDA has registered 17 cases of illness in the US in three states California (15), Minnesota (1), and North Dakota (1). Illness onset dates range from March 28th to April 30th, 2022. Ten cases appeared in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The pathogen can be found in food like the FreshKampo and HEB strawberries. But infected people can pass on the illness to others.

Symptoms don’t appear until you’ve had the virus for a few weeks, the Mayo Clinic explains. You might experience fatigue; sudden nausea and vomiting; abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in your liver; clay-colored bowel movements; loss of appetite; low-grade fever; dark urine; joint pain; yellowing of the skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice); and intense itching.

You’ll also find more details about the hepatitis A virus (HAV) on the FDA’s website.

The symptoms might be mild and last for a few weeks before disappearing. But some people might have to deal with the infection for a few months. Diagnosis will require a blood test, however.

What you should do

The FDA urges buyers who purchased the recalled FreshKampo or HEB strawberries to throw them out right away if they still have frozen supply at home. Those customers who are unsure where they got their frozen strawberries should also throw away their stock to reduce the risk of infection.

People who bought the FreshKampo or HEB strawberries between March 5th, 2022 and April 25th, 2022 and ate them should consult a doctor immediately if they haven’t received the hepatitis A vaccine. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is recommended for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to the virus in the last two weeks, as it can prevent infection if administered within 14 days.

Those who have had hepatitis A before or received a vaccine do not need PEP.

Make sure you read the outbreak announcement at this link to get all the details about this FreshKampo and HEB strawberries recall. Canadian buyers should read the local outbreak alert at this link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.