The International Company for Agricultural Production and Processing (ICAPP) is voluntarily recalling all frozen strawberries imported since the beginning of 2016 in response to an FDA investigation of a hepatitis A outbreak. This is the outbreak that sickened more than 100 people this summer that is linked to Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurants in the eastern United States.
These strawberries were distributed to food service establishments nationwide. They were not in food products offered at retail to consumers. But this news release is being issued to help reduce possible risk to public health. None of ICAPP’s own testing has found hepatitis A in any of its products with its own third party testing, but they are recalling all frozen strawberries imported into the U.S. since January 1, 2016. The hepatitis A virus was found in four lots of frozen strawberries exported to the United States by ICAPP through government testing.
ICAPP is working with the FDA to investigate the outbreak. As of October 20, 2016, the CDC reports that 134 people in 9 states have been sickened in this outbreak. Those states are Arkansas, California, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Oregon, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. Almost all of those sickened ate smoothies containing strawberries at Tropical Smoothie Locations in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Fifty two of those patients have been hospitalized because their illnesses are so serious. Traceback investigation indicated that the strawberries served at those restaurants were imported from Egypt.
The symptoms of hepatitis A, a liver disease, include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, clay colored stools, dark urine, and fever. Most people get sick within 15 to 50 days of exposure to the virus. Some get better within a few weeks, but others can develop a serious illness, especially if they are elderly, have compromised immune systems, or liver disease.
If you have consumed smoothies or have eaten frozen strawberries and have developed these symptoms, see your doctor. The best way to prevent the spread of this illness is to stay home if you are sick, and to wash your hands well after going to the bathroom.