Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries prompts Canada investigation

Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries prompts Canada investigation
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is investigating whether frozen organic strawberries that have been linked to a hepatitis A outbreak in the U.S. were sold in Canada, too.

Kirkland-brand frozen organic strawberries were recalled from some Costco stores in California and Hawaii last month, and consumers were asked to toss out the product "out of an abundance of caution." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in an April 11 update the strawberries linked to the virus originated from a farm in Baja California, Mexico. All of seven people who were infected and underwent an interview said they had consumed the strawberries.

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver, usually transmitted by food or water that’s been contaminated by fecal matter containing the hepatitis A virus.

The CFIA told Global News last week they are not aware of any Canadian distribution of the frozen strawberries linked to infections, but are investigating the matter.

However, not everyone who gets hepatitis A will show symptoms, and young children often have no symptoms at all. Some people have symptoms for one or two weeks, while others are sick for several months.

Hepatitis A is often thought of as a traveller’s disease because it’s more common in Central and South America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia.

Health Canada advises to get vaccinated against the virus before travelling to high-risk countries and be cautious of food safety.

Foods that can cause hepatitis A
Hepatitis A can survive for hours on people’s hands, for days on surfaces and foods, for weeks in dried feces and for up to a year in water. It easily survives freezing and is resistant to physical and chemical substances that can kill other viruses.

Because food passes through many hands before it reaches consumers, there are a lot of opportunities for contamination. Anyone who works in a farm, factory or restaurant where food is grown, packaged or prepared can spread it.

Contaminated water can also spread hepatitis A — whether it’s ingested directly or used to wash or prepare food. This is why foods that are eaten raw or undercooked are the most likely to be contaminated with the hardy virus.

Berries are at a particularly high risk for contamination with hepatitis A because they can’t be peeled like many other fruits, and are often eaten raw. Berries are also usually hand-picked, providing more opportunities for people to transfer the virus from their hands to the fruit.

Since hepatitis A can survive freezing, frozen berries have been linked to several hepatitis A outbreaks in North America in past years. This includes the recent recall of frozen strawberries in the U.S.
Source: www.yahoo.com
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