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MDARD and MDHHS Continue to Provide Information on Frozen Strawberry Recall and Hepatitis A

Agency: Agriculture and Rural Development

MDARD media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724 DHHS media contact: Jennifer Eisner, 517-241-2112

The Michigan Department and Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) continue to work cooperatively on the nationwide frozen strawberry recall.  The departments continue to focus on providing the most current information received from its federal partners to commercial food service establishments who may have received the strawberries and people who may have consumed them.  

MDARD update: The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reminding commercial food service establishments of an ongoing recall of frozen strawberries by the International Company for Agricultural Products and Processing (ICAPP) as part of a continuing investigation of a Hepatitis A outbreak in the U.S. The recalled products were distributed for sale to, and use in, food service establishments nationwide — not for use in food products offered for individual retail sale direct to consumers.

Hepatitis A was detected in four lots of frozen strawberries exported to the U.S. by ICAPP. MDARD is working in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local health departments, along with federal partners at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to conduct recall effectiveness checks to make sure all recalled products have been removed from commerce and are no longer being served in Michigan.

Distributors and commercial food service establishments need to check the sources of any frozen strawberries they may have on hand to assure they are not part of the recall.   Restaurants and other food service operators who have processed and packaged any potentially contaminated products need to be concerned about cross contamination of cutting surfaces and utensils through contact with the potentially contaminated products. Food handlers should take steps to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A, including washing and sanitizing display cases, refrigerators, cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to prepare, serve, or store potentially contaminated products. It’s also important to wash hands with hot water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.

The original recall, issued by ICAPP on Sunday, October 30, can be viewed at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm527273.htm.

MDHHS update: The CDC is advising post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for unvaccinated persons who have consumed these strawberries in the last two weeks. If given within two weeks of exposure, a single dose of Hepatitis A vaccination can protect against illness. Those with evidence of previous vaccination do not require PEP. Contact your physician to find out if you have been vaccinated against hepatitis A.   PEP consists of hepatitis A vaccine for people between the ages of 1 and 40 years; and hepatitis A virus-specific immunoglobulin (IG) for people outside of this age range. Hepatitis A vaccine can be substituted if IG is not available. PEP offers no preventive benefit to persons whose exposure occurred more than two weeks ago.

To determine if a vaccination is appropriate, persons who may have consumed affected product should consult with their health care professional or local health department.   Consumers who have recently consumed frozen strawberries should contact the food establishment(s) where they purchased the product to determine if the establishment may have been impacted by the recall.   Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from exposure to the hepatitis A virus, including from food. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Illness generally occurs within 15 to 50 days of exposure and includes fatigue, abdominal pain, yellow skin (jaundice), abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool.    In rare cases, particularly consumers who have a pre-existing severe illness or a compromised immunes system, hepatitis A infection can progress to liver failure. Contact your health care professionals or the local health department immediately if you are experiencing symptoms of hepatitis A.

For more information on the multistate outbreak of hepatitis A, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/outbreaks/2016/hav-strawberries.htm

As a reminder, this is an ongoing investigation, and details are still developing. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.

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Distribution channels: Agriculture, Farming & Forestry