In a routine food safety inspection, investigators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found the contagious liver disease Hepatitis A in frozen berries sold at Kroger grocery stores. The national chain shipped the possibly contaminated berries all over the country.
Kroger initiated a voluntary recall of certain frozen berry products after the FDA informed them of the presence of viral contamination in a sample of Private Selection brand frozen berries. Due to the sample, Kroger released a statement on June 7, 2019 stating that no customers have reported illness from eating the virus-contaminated berries. However, it may be too soon for victims to experience symptoms of Hepatitis A, hence the recall.
Berry Recall Information for Consumers
Kroger has removed all the potentially contaminated berries from store freezers and has initiated a public awareness campaign related to this breach of food safety. However, it is possible that consumers who have eaten the contaminated berries are infected with Hepatitis A but are not showing symptoms yet.
Consumers can identify the recalled berries as the following Private Selection products:
- 48 oz package of frozen Triple Berry Medley with a “Best By” date of 07-07-20.
- 16 oz package of frozen Triple Berry Medley, with a “Best By: date of 06-19-20.
- Frozen Blackberries in a 16 oz package with “Best By” dates of 06-19-20 and 07-02-20.
Both Kroger and the FDA urge consumers not to consume the frozen berries meeting these descriptions. If you have recalled food in your home, return them to the place of purchase for a full refund or replacement.
How Hepatitis A Compromises Food Safety
Hepatitis is very contagious, and it spreads most commonly through the food supply. People who live in parts of the world with poor sanitation are at the greatest risk of contracting the virus. In contrast, in a developed country like America, consumers most often contract Hepatitis A after:
- Eating food handled by someone who has the virus and does not practice responsible hand washing after using the toilet.
- Drinking contaminated water.
- Eating raw shellfish harvested from water polluted with sewage.
- Being close to an infected person even when the person shows no signs or symptoms.
- Sexual contact with someone who has the virus.
The Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent the development of the illness if received within two weeks of exposure to the virus. Even without showing symptoms, if you have consumed the contaminated berries see your doctor and inquire about a Hepatitis A vaccine as soon as possible.
The Second Hepatitis A Outbreak from Townsend Farms
Townsend Farms, an Oregon-based wholesaler, produced all the items involved in this recall. This is not the first time food safety concerns have been raised in regard to Townsend Farms. Berry products distributed by Townsend Farms have been linked to Hepatitis A in the past. Most noteworthy is several lawsuits filed against Townsend Farms in 2013 when its “Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend” sold in Costco stores caused more than 100 cases of Hepatitis A nationwide.
In 2013, Townsend Farms processed the antioxidant berry blend at a plant in Fairview, Oregon. Raw ingredients used came from Washington, Argentina, Chile, and Turkey. As a result of their investigation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined the source of the contamination to be the pomegranate seeds from Turkey.
With more than 300,000 of the contaminated items sold in Costco stores, both Townsend Farms and the retailer were hammered with claims of illness. Townsend Farms was the subject of a class action lawsuit as well as several individual lawsuits, including at least one wrongful death claim. Eventually, the CDC linked 165 cases of Hepatitis A to the berry blend.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A
As we stated above, this food safety crisis is a developing story. Patients may currently have Hepatitis A and be showing no symptoms. It can take up to 50 days for Hepatitis A symptoms to present themselves.
Patients can experience these symptoms for up to two months with a small percentage suffering symptoms for up to six months. Also, the virus affects your liver’s ability to function and causes serious complications or even death in vulnerable people.
For many people who catch the virus, the symptoms will be mild and will resolve on their own after several weeks. The danger, however, is in how very contagious the virus is and how easy it is to spread it. Elderly adults or small children could suffer a prolonged illness or severe complications if exposed. Furthermore, severe cases of Hepatitis A can cause complications from dehydration, liver failure and even death.
The Hepatitis A Vaccine
Receiving an early diagnosis of Hepatitis A is especially important to curtailing the spread of the virus. Receiving the Hepatitis A vaccine is an important link in the chain of containment. If you have any of the symptoms of Hepatitis A, especially if you have consumed Private Selection brand berries, see a doctor right away.
You should certainly speak to a medical professional about the Hepatitis A vaccine if:
- You have recently traveled to Mexico, Central America, or South America
- Someone in your home contracts Hepatitis A
- You have eaten in a restaurant that reported a Hepatitis A outbreak
- You have had sexual contact with someone who has Hepatitis A
Receiving the vaccine soon after exposure can stop the spread of the virus and prevent you from experiencing symptoms.
How Worried Should You Be about Food Safety?
If you like frozen berries, you should be fairly concerned about food safety and these recalled berries. Kroger is a huge nationwide chain that sells groceries not only under the name Kroger, but also under the following: Ralphs, Dillons, Smith’s, King Soopers, Fry’s, QFC, City Market, Owen’s, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker’s, Gerbes, Harris Teeter, Pick ‘n Save, Copps, Metro Market, and Mariano’s.
The company has not released any information regarding the number of possibly contaminated units sold, but considering the vast scope of their market share, it is safe to assume the number is massive.
Food Safety Concerns? Contact Bad Food Recall
If you have eaten Private Selection berries, you should certainly be mindful of the symptoms of Hepatitis A. Talk to your doctor about the Hepatitis A vaccine, and take measures to prevent spreading the virus.
If you have suffered serious illness due to any recalled food product, call Bad Food Recall to consult with an experienced food safety attorney. You may have a claim for financial compensation for the costs of your illness. Schedule a free consultation by calling 877-534-5750, or contact us online.