The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Hepatitis A infections in three provinces linked to the frozen fruit product: Nature’s Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a food recall warning advising Canadians of the recall of the frozen fruit product that has been distributed in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Public Health Agency of Canada advises Canadians not to consume the frozen fruit product Nature’s Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend sold exclusively at Costco warehouse locations in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. If you suspect you have been exposed to the recalled product, or have symptoms consistent for Hepatitis A, see your health care provider immediately. Vaccination can prevent the onset of symptoms if given within two weeks of exposure.
The overall risk to Canadians is low. Hepatitis A is a disease that can cause inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. You can get the Hepatitis A virus by eating contaminated food or water or through contact with an infected person’s stool. Adequate vaccination can protect against the Hepatitis A virus.
Currently, there are 12 cases of Hepatitis A in three provinces related to this outbreak: Ontario (9), Quebec (2), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). Individuals became sick in February and March of this year. Some of the individuals who became ill have reported eating the recalled product. The majority of cases (58%) are male, with an average age of 37 years. Three cases have been hospitalized.
Who is most at risk?
Hepatitis A infections can occur among people of all ages; however, symptoms are likely to be more severe among the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
What you should do to protect your health?
If you have Nature’s Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend frozen fruit in your home, do not eat this product. For more information on this product including stores that these products were sold at, please read the recall notice.
If you are unsure whether a frozen fruit product you have in your home is part of the food recall warning, do not consume it. Secure the product in a plastic bag, throw it out and wash your hands with warm soapy water.
People infected with Hepatitis A can have a wide range of symptoms. Some do not get sick at all, though they can still spread the infection to others. Others may experience symptoms including fatigue and jaundice.
Most people with Hepatitis A develop the following symptoms two to seven weeks after being infected with the virus:
- loss of appetite
- stomach cramps
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- dark urine
Symptoms are usually mild, and the illness usually lasts one to two weeks. Although severe cases can last several months, most people recover without treatment. It is rare for healthy adults to die from Hepatitis A, and the illness does not become chronic.
There is an approved vaccine for Hepatitis A. If you are immune to the Hepatitis A (because you already had the virus or you have been vaccinated), this will last your entire life.
What the Government of Canada is doing
The Government of Canada is committed to food safety. The Public Health Agency of Canada is leading the human health investigation of this outbreak and is in regular contact with its federal and provincial partners to monitor and take collaborative steps to address the outbreak.
Health Canada provides food-related health risk assessments to determine if the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducts food safety investigations into the possible food source of an outbreak.
The Government of Canada will continue to update Canadians if new information related to this investigation becomes available.
(SOURCE: Public Health Agency of Canada)