Share on PinterestBags of frozen fruit available at multiple stores are being voluntarily recalled. Getty Images
- Voluntary recall of various brands of frozen fruit at Walmart, Costco, and HEB.
- The reason for the recall is the potential contamination of hepatitis A.
- No reports of illnesses have been made.
Potential contamination of hepatitis A has led to the voluntary recall of multiple packs of frozen strawberries and mixed fruit.
The frozen fruit mixes were available at different Walmart, Costco, and HEB locations throughout the United States from October 2022 to June 2023.
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) safety notice states that no illnesses have been associated with this recall.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection that usually causes a mild illness. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, and jaundice, and they can appear up to 50 days after exposure to the hepatitis A virus (HAV).
Most people recover fully within a few weeks, but certain individuals may experience severe complications, such as liver failure.
“Consuming food contaminated with the hepatitis A virus can lead to illness, but this likelihood depends on factors such as the amount of virus present and the individual’s immune response,” explained Dr. Eric Cioe-Peña, Vice President of Global Health and an Emergency Department physician at Staten Island University Hospital.
Hepatitis A is an extremely contagious liver infection. The virus can contaminate food during the growing, harvesting, and processing stages.
Shellfish and fresh produce are the most commonly affected foods.
Several factors contribute to whether or not someone will become ill after consuming food infected with the hepatitis A virus.
“It depends on their immunity to hepatitis A (through vaccination or previous exposure), the quantity they consume, and the level of contamination in the strawberries,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, FIDSA, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security and an infectious disease expert.
Dr. Scott Roberts, an infectious diseases specialist at Yale Medicine and assistant professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, stated that even small amounts of hepatitis A can make certain individuals sick.
“A single fruit contaminated with hepatitis A can still cause a severe infection,” said Roberts.
In the United States, foodborne or waterborne hepatitis A outbreaks are relatively rare but do occur occasionally.
Symptoms typically appear 15 to 50 days after consuming contaminated food or water. They include fever, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, dark urine, jaundice, and light-colored stools.
Hepatitis A usually resolves on its own over time. “The body often fights off the infection on its own within three weeks,” said Cioe-Peña.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Supportive care, including rest and hydration, is commonly recommended.
“Most people feel better by the third week of illness,” added Adalja. Recovery is typically complete within three months for 85% of individuals and within six months for most people.
In rare cases, chronic hepatitis A may develop, leading to severe health problems such as liver failure and death.
According to Adalja, the hepatitis A vaccine has been a standard childhood immunization in the United States since 2006. It is also recommended for individuals at risk and those traveling to areas with common hepatitis A outbreaks.
Washing contaminated foods may not eliminate the virus entirely. Therefore, the best course of action is to avoid consuming any foods or beverages subject to recall.
While cooking can kill the virus in contaminated foods, many foods carrying HAV, such as fruits and vegetables, are commonly consumed raw.
“Any product subject to a recall notice due to contamination should be discarded and not consumed in any way,” advised Roberts.