The FDA issued a Public Health Alert Friday night after finding Hepatitis A in store brand frozen fruit sold by the 26 different stores in the Kroger grocery chain.
Kroger has recalled two products sold under the Private Selection brand: Frozen Triple Berry Medley, 16-ounce bags with a best by date of 06-19-20; same product, but in 48-ounce bags with a best by date of 07-07-20; and Frozen Blackberries, 16-ounce bags with best by dates of 06-19-20 or 07-02-20. The products were made by Townsend Farms.
Anyone with these products should not eat them. Throw them out or return them to the place of purchase for full refund. If you’ve eaten the above berries and haven’t had Hepatitis A previously or been vaccinated against it, see a doctor.
The FDA says neither it nor the CDC knows of a Hepatitis A case involving the frozen fruit yet. The Hep A was found through testing done as part of “an ongoing frozen berry sampling assignment.”
As noted in several places, including Progressive Grocers’ Top 50 list from May, Kroger runs second to big box gorilla Walmart in grocery revenue. Kroger has its own big box, mall-in-one Fred Meyer stores, as well as Dillons Marketplace, Fry’s Marketplace, King Soopers Marketplace, Kroger Marketplace and Smith’s Marketplace that sell almost everything except clothes.
But Kroger’s foundation stores are supermarkets: Kroger, 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. They also own warehouse store chains Food 4 Less and Foods Co.
Hepatitis A has mushroomed as a problem nationwide, particularly in Florida, which has 1,373 confirmed cases this year. That’s more than 2014 through 2018 — combined (1,122). While Hep A has been found in a restaurant worker in Miami-Dade and one in Palm Beach County this year, only a drip of the problem has touched Florida’s southern tip, whether the numbers are raw or per capita. Miami-Dade has 17 cases, Palm Beach has 21, Broward has 12 and Monroe County has none.
Compare that to Florida’s West Coast, where Pinellas (261), Pasco (256) and Hillsborough (98) account for 44.8 percent of the state’s cases.
“(The Hepatitis A virus) is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected,” the FDA alert reminds consumers. “HAV is spread when someone ingests the virus, usually through person-to-person contact or from eating contaminated food or drink.”
Proper hand-washing being the first line of defense against the spread of Hep A joins the list of reasons hand-washing violations rank as High Priority or Intermediate violations on grocery and restaurant inspections.
If you’ve been vaccinated against Hepatitis A or already had Hepatitis A, you’re safe from getting it again. Sometimes, symptoms might not show up for 15 to 50 days. The FDA reminds that “symptoms ay include fever, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin or eyes (known as jaundice), dark urine, and pale stool.”