Germs on both fresh and frozen produce can cause illness, so watching out for foods that have been recalled is important. A strawberry recall in the spring of 2023 was connected to outbreaks of hepatitis A, as per the Food and Drug Administration.
A number of organic strawberry brands sold in stores like Aldi, Costco, and Trader Joe's were recalled in March of 2023, with additional products recalled in June 2023. A similar recall in 2022 was issued, also due to a hepatitis A outbreak in Canada, the FDA reported.
Here's how to best ensure your family isn't eating unsafe strawberries.
Recalled strawberries can carry the risk of disease or illness.
Although eating produce in both fresh and frozen forms is great for your health and for prevention of major and chronic diseases, it can also cause illness if the produce is unsafe to eat. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, explains, raw fruits and vegetables can have germs that could make people sick.
The CDC also estimates that germs found on fresh produce cause a lot of the foodborne illness in the U.S. The organization says that it's safest to cook fruits and vegetables before eating them, although eating them raw can be fine as long as you wash the items carefully first. Illnesses often spread through strawberries include hepatitis A, salmonella, E. coli, and listeria, per the CDC.
Two major cases of recalled strawberries stemmed from hepatitis A outbreaks.
At least two instances of recalled strawberries were issued due to outbreaks of hepatitis A.
In 2022, an outbreak of hepatitis A in the U.S. was linked to fresh organic strawberries from Baja California in Mexico. In May of 2022, the FDA and the CDC investigated an outbreak of hepatitis A linked to strawberries under the FreshKampo and HEB brands. 18 cases were reported over three states. The CDC stated that this outbreak had ended as of Aug. 14, 2022.
In March of 2023, the Scenic Fruit Company recalled a number of brands of frozen organic strawberries due to the same illness. Frozen organic strawberries were sold to Costco, Aldi, KeHE, Vital Choice Seafood, and PCC Community Markets. In addition, potentially contaminated strawberries were part of a Trader Joe's tropical fruit blend. Brands affected were:
- Simply Nature
- Vital Choice
- Kirkland Signature
- Made With
- PCC Community Markets
- Trader Joe’s.
Willamette Valley Fruit Co initiated a strawberry recall in June 2023 and five additional frozen products were recalled. These products are sold at Walmart, Costco, and HEB stores as part of the Great Value and Rader Farms brands. The affected products are distributed by Willamette Valley Fruit and include:
- Rader Farms Berry Trio 3-lb
- Fresh Start Smoothie Blend 48-oz bag
- Great Value Antioxidant Fruit Blend 2-lb
- Great Value Sliced Strawberries 4-lb
- Great Value Mixed Fruit 4-lb
What should you do if you become ill after eating strawberries?
If you're someone who buys or eats frozen organic strawberries, you should check your food labels. A list of lot codes and "best by" dates on the affected packages is located at the FDA update page.
If you suspect you may have eaten the recalled fruit, consult your doctor to find out whether you should get a hepatitis A vaccine. This is usually only effective if you get it within two weeks of exposure to contaminated food.
The FDA advises consumers to avoid eating the recalled strawberries as well as to return any remaining packages to the store where they were purchased. You may also destroy the recalled strawberries.
Here are some guidelines to help you stay safe when eating fruits and vegetables.
According to the CDC, you can decrease your risk of becoming ill from eating fresh produce by choosing fruits and vegetables that are not damaged or bruised, keeping them separate from raw meat or poultry, and keeping any pre-cut foods refrigerated or on ice.
You can also protect yourself by washing your hands before and after handling strawberries, washing food preparation surfaces before and after, and washing the strawberries under running water. You should also refrigerate strawberries and other produce within two hours after cutting, peeling, or cooking them.
This article, originally published on May 22, 2023, has been updated to include the June 2023 additional frozen strawberry products recall.