In an unexpected announcement, the FDA says that the recalled frozen strawberries imported from Egypt that are linked to a hepatitis A outbreak in the eastern United States were sold to schools and institutions across the country. In the official outbreak linked to Tropical Smoothie Cafe products, five of the 134 people sickened did not consume those products.
The FDA says that frozen strawberry products recalled by The International Company for Agricultural Production and Processing (ICAPP) may have been served in food service operations as recently as October 27, 2016. The products were “included but not limited to” whole, sliced, and sugared strawberries and diced strawberries.
The five companies that received frozen strawberry products from ICAPP are: C.H. Belt of Lake Forest, California, sold under CH World brand; Jetro/Restaurant Depot of College Point, New York, sold under James Farm brand and unbranded “Bits & Pieces”; Sysco Corporation of Houston, Texas; Patagonia Foods of San Luis Obispo, California; and Reddy Raw of Woodridge, New Jersey, sold under the Regal brand. The FDA is working with these companies to identify customers who may have received these strawberries. A table, identifying the type of product sold by each of these distributors is available at the FDA web site.
Schools, restaurants, and institutions should check their freezers to see if they have any strawberries distributed by ICAPP. Any institution that received these products from the vendors named above should contact their local health department and tell their customers they may have eaten contaminated strawberries. Customers should also be told that they should get a hepatitis A or immune globulin vaccination if the time elapsed since consuming the berries is two weeks or less. The FDA and CDC are not aware of any illnesses related to any recalled products other than whole frozen strawberries.
There have been no hepatitis A illnesses reported from the exposure at Tropical Smoothie cafes since September 23, 2016. But, the latest illness onset date among the five patients who contracted the illness but did not eat at Tropical Smoothie locations was October 1, 2016.
The FDA identified five samples of ICAPP’s frozen strawberries that tested positive for hepatitis A. ICAPP has recalled all of its frozen strawberries and frozen strawberry products imported into this country since January 1, 2016.
Some state health departments are publishing retail distribution lists of recalled ICAPP frozen strawberries. The state of California, Shasta County, California, and Kern County, California have all released lists of institutions that have received the frozen strawberries. Please check these lists carefully. If you ate any food containing frozen strawberries at those locations on the lists, please check with your doctor for advice. The list from the state of California alone is 166 pages.
In Shasta County, the berries were served October 25, 2016 at the Bella Vista Elementary school. And the berries may have been used in strawberry syrup or topping at Vittles Restaurant in Anderson. Shasta County is offering hepatitis A clinics with free vaccinations on Saturday, November 5, 2016 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. The clinic will be held at 2650 Breslauer Way in Redding, California.
The symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin), fever, nausea, diarrhea, clay colored stools, dark urine, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, and weight loss. Symptoms appear 15 days to 50 days after exposure to the virus. If you have experienced these symptoms, please see your doctor.