An Egyptian food exporter is recalling certain lots of frozen strawberries in response to an outbreak of Hepatitis A virus. U.S. health officials traced the outbreak to frozen Egyptian strawberries used in smoothies served at some Tropical Smoothie Café establishments.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that the International Company for Agricultural Production & Processing (ICAPP), based in Ramadan, Egypt, is recalling the frozen strawberries it sent to the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2016, out of an abundance of caution.
The recall came a few days after the FDA said ICAPP’s frozen strawberries would not be admitted into the U.S.
The strawberries covered by the recall were sold to restaurants and other food service establishments nationwide, not for use in retail products sold to consumers. The FDA said ICAPP is notifying the U.S. public anyway to help mitigate any possible risk to public health and to ensure that all recalled products are recovered.
None of the recalled products has tested positive for Hepatitis A contamination, but ICAPP is recalling them anyway to eliminate the possibility that potentially contaminated lots of frozen strawberries will be used.
The Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen Egyptian strawberries has sickened 134 people from nine states — Arkansas, California, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Oregon, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia — as of Oct. 17, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows. No deaths have been reported in connection with the outbreak, but 52 people were sickened enough to require hospitalization. It’s likely that other infected individuals aren’t aware of their illness.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that causes liver disease. It is most commonly spread and contracted through contaminated food. The illness can range from mild, lasting a few weeks, to serious, persisting for several months.
Hepatitis A illness usually occurs between 15 and 50 days of exposure and results in fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, and other symptoms. In rarer cases, Hepatitis A infection can progress to liver failure and death, particularly in people with a severe pre-existing illness or compromised immune system.