U.S. and Canadian regulators are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis that may be related to fresh organic strawberries.
A joint statement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Health Agency of Canada said the disease in Minnesota, California and Canada arose after people ate FreshKampo and HEB strawberries.
Agencies report that the strawberries were purchased between March 5 and April 25. They were sold in various American retail chains, including Aldi, Kroger, Safeway, Walmart and Trader Joe’s. In Canada, the affected strawberries were sold between March 5 and 9 at Co-op stores in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The potentially affected strawberry has expired, but health officials say consumers who purchased it and froze it to eat later should throw it away.
In the United States, 17 diseases and 12 hospitalizations have been reported, according to the FDA. Ten cases and four hospitalizations have been reported in Canada.
Mexican company FreshKampo, which grew strawberries, said in a statement on Sunday that it was working with regulators to determine how the problem arose. FreshKampo said the label on the containers with potentially affected strawberries would read “Product of Mexico” or “Distributed Meridien Foods”.
In a statement on its website, Texas grocer HEB said it has not received or sold organic strawberries from a supplier since April 16. HEB said anyone who still has the strawberry should throw it away or return it to the store where it was purchased. .
Hepatitis A is a virus that can cause liver disease and, in rare cases, liver failure and death. The disease usually occurs within 15-50 days after eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and jaundice.
Consumers who have eaten potentially affected berries in the past two weeks and have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A should consult a doctor immediately, the FDA said.