Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Trader Joe’s on Alewife Brook Parkway in Cambridge. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The city took the unusual step of warning residents about a recall of certain frozen organic strawberry products sold by Trader Joe’s and other retailers because of possible hepatitis A contamination. The announcement came in a daily newsletter emailed to residents Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said the products most likely came from certain farms in Baja California, Mexico, and were distributed by at least two companies to Costco, Aldi and other retailers in more than 19 states, not including Massachusetts. The Trader Joe’s product, an Organic Tropical Fruit Blend containing the strawberries and other fruits, were sold nationwide.

As of the latest CDC update on Friday the recall was limited to products bearing certain best-by dates in 2024 and certain product identification codes. Details are available at here and here.

So far seven people in California and Washington have been infected, with two hospitalized, the CDC said. The federal agencies said they are investigating the outbreak and more  products may be identified.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus and is spread by close contact with an infected person or eating contaminated food or drink, according to the CDC. Symptoms can appear as long as 50 days after exposure and include fatigue, yellow eyes and skin, lack of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, fever and dark urine or light stool.

Some people have no symptoms. Most people recover without lasting liver damage, but some need hospitalization and the virus can also cause death. A vaccine can prevent infection, and the vaccine or immune globulin can protect people who’ve been exposed if given within 14 days of exposure, the CDC said.

The agency recommended that people who ate the recalled products consult their doctors to see if treatment is available. It urged consumers to throw out any recalled products stored in their freezers.

The strain of hepatitis A implicated in the ongoing frozen strawberry outbreak is the same as the strain found last year in an outbreak involving fresh strawberries, also imported from Baja California, Mexico, the FDA said.