The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns consumers that a certain brand of blackberries may be the cause of the ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak that is impacting three states. Indiana, Nebraska and Wisconsin all report cases of Hepatitis A. Now, consumers are left to wonder about food safety among products shipped to other states.
FDA Investigates Fresh Thyme Blackberries
According to the FDA, victims of the Hepatitis A outbreak all report eating “fresh conventional blackberries” from Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets. The FDA is now investigating the outbreak alongside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Per the FDA warning, consumers should be aware of the following:
- Do not consume any Fresh Thyme blackberries purchased between September 9, 2019 and September 30, 2019.
- If you purchased blackberries during this time and froze them, discard them immediately.
- If you have not been vaccinated for Hepatitis A virus (HAV) and have consumed Fresh Thyme blackberries, contact your healthcare provider.
Information About the Hepatitis A Outbreak
So far, there are at least 11 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A related to the ongoing outbreak. At least six people have been hospitalized due to the outbreak. The FDA and CDC are concerned that additional cases may come to light as the investigation continues.
Fresh Thyme operates markets in all three states, as well as Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Consumers who shop at Fresh Thyme in these locations should be aware of the blackberry warning. Subsequently, consumers should make sure they do not purchase or consume them.
UPDATE: Lawsuit Filed Related to Hepatitis A Outbreak
The first lawsuit related to Fresh Thyme blackberries is pending in a Nebraska court. A woman in Omaha filed a lawsuit after eating blackberries and developing Hepatitis A. The plaintiff alleges that she developed Hepatitis A and was hospitalized for a week. Further, she states that she continues to battle medical issues including fatigue and other symptoms.
Fresh Thyme and health officials continue to investigate the cause of the Hepatitis A outbreak. They continue to urge consumers to avoid blackberries purchased between September 9 and September 30, 2019.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the liver. The virus generally lasts for several weeks, but can last for months. Hepatitis A often originates in food or water that contains the virus. Sometimes the virus contaminates fecal matter, and other times it directly contaminates a food or water supply. This contamination may occur at any time during manufacturing, growing, packaging or distribution of a product.
Hepatitis A is highly contagious, especially among people are not vaccinated. Transmission occurs when someone who has the infection comes into contact with others, or when people consume food or water that contains the virus.
Hepatitis A illness develops 15-50 days after exposure. This lengthy duration is likely why the FDA and CDC are closely monitoring the situation. There may be other illnesses that are not yet linked to the Hepatitis A outbreak.
What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis A?
People who develop Hepatitis A generally have mild to moderate symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal Pain
- Dark Urine
- Pale Stool
In healthy adults, these symptoms generally resolve within weeks, with full recovery in one to two months. In children, the elderly or people with a weakened immune system, Hepatitis A symptoms may continue for longer duration. The infection can also relapse.
In severe cases, Hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death.
How to Avoid the Hepatitis A Outbreak
Consumers who are concerned about the Hepatitis A outbreak can certainly take some measures to prevent infection. Consider the following tips to reduce the risk of developing a foodborne illness:
- Wash the inside of your refrigerator with a sanitizing cleaner.
- Sanitize any cutting boards or utensils that may have come into contact with Hepatitis A.
- Sanitize all cooking areas and surfaces.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after cleaning and before handling any other food products.
- Avoid consuming foods that are subject to a recall, or that are subject to an FDA warning.
- Avoid contact with other people who may have Hepatitis A.
The FDA urges consumers to practice good food safety habits, and to report any Hepatitis A illness that may relate to the Hepatitis A outbreak.
Getting Help After Hepatitis A Infection
Any consumer who develops Hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider to get adequate treatment. Next, the FDA offers reporting via their MedWatch program. Consumers who wish to speak with someone can call the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.
If you have questions about your rights as a consumer, or what to do if you are ill because of a contaminated product, contact Bad Food Recall. We offer valuable resources to people who become injured or ill due to the negligence of a manufacturer, producer, packager or distributer. Find out more about your rights by completing our online form. You may also call us toll free at 1-877-534-5750.