The Hepatitis A outbreak linked to various brands of frozen organic strawberries has gotten worse

You may want to skip the frozen fruits section at your grocery store until the recent recalls have been lifted

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published April 28, 2023 3:01PM (EDT)

Frozen strawberries (Getty Images/Kinga Krzeminska)
Frozen strawberries (Getty Images/Kinga Krzeminska)

Although it may be tempting to pick up some frozen strawberries during your next grocery run, the Food and Drug Administration advises against doing so.

Turns out, frozen berries are linked to an ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak, which began around Nov. 24, 2022. On April 12, 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the patient count in the outbreak increased to a total of eight outbreak-associated cases reported from California and Washington. 

As of April 21, 2023, the patient count remains the same. Two out of the eight individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

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

The affected brands include Simply Nature (distributed in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin), Vital Choice (distributed in Washington), Kirkland Signature (distributed in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington), Made With (distributed in Illinois and Maryland), PCC Community Markets (distributed in Washington) and Trader Joe's (distributed nationwide).

Amid an investigation led by the CDC, state public health and regulatory officials and the FDA, California Splendor, Inc. of San Diego, California voluntarily recalled certain lots of 4-lb. bags of Kirkland Signature Frozen Organic Whole Strawberries that were sold at Costco stores in Los Angeles; Hawaii; and two San Diego business centers. Similarly, Scenic Fruit Company of Gresham, Oregon, voluntarily recalled frozen organic strawberries, sold to Costco, Trader Joe's, Aldi, KeHE, Vital Choice Seafood and PCC Community Markets in certain states. On March 17, 2023, Meijer also voluntarily recalled Made-With brand frozen organic strawberries from certain market store locations.

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Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus itself is commonly found in the stool and blood of those who are infected. It is spread from close, personal contact with an infected person or via ingestion, usually from eating contaminated food or drink. Hepatitis A can be prevented with a vaccine, which is recommended for all children at age one and at-risk adults, per the CDC.

At this time, the CDC "recommends that people who purchased recalled frozen organic strawberries should not eat, serve, or sell these recalled frozen organic strawberries." If you have eaten any of the recalled frozen organic strawberries and are not vaccinated against Hepatitis A, contact your local health department or health care provider immediately.

The FDA's investigation into the outbreak is ongoing. More products may be added to the recall list soon.

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Cdc Fda Food Recalls Frozen Organic Strawberries Hepatitis A Outbreak