Blackberries from Fresh Thyme grocery stores linked to Hepatitis A outbreak

Blackberries blamed for Hep A outbreak

(KFVS) - A multistate outbreak of hepatitis A is under investigation by state and local health officials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The outbreak began in Nebraska and has been traced to blackberries sold in Fresh Thyme grocery stores.

A total of 11 states are a part of the investigation including Nebraska, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services in Nebraska, the FDA is urging consumers to not to eat any fresh blackberries purchased from Fresh Thyme grocery stores between Sept. 9 and Sept. 30, 2019.

Officials recommended that the berries be thrown away.

Fresh Thyme released the following statement announcing their full cooperation with the agencies involved.

“The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control, in conjunction with other state and local agencies, have contacted us concerning a recent Hepatitis A outbreak in three states in the Midwest affecting an unspecified number of individuals. These agencies are investigating and believe that affected people may have consumed fresh conventional (non-organic) blackberries between September 9 and September 30, 2019. We are fully cooperating with these agencies on the investigation and are awaiting next steps.At this time, there is no reason to believe that any of the product was contaminated via handling in our stores. In addition, the agencies are ONLY concerned with product purchased between September 9 and September 30; product purchased or consumed outside of these dates are NOT subject to the investigation. We are working with these agencies to identify our suppliers and isolate the source of this contamination. Fresh Thyme takes the health and safety of our customers and our team members very seriously. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market has a stringent process for ensuring compliance to all local, state and federal health and hygiene regulations.Should any customers have any of the fresh conventional blackberries purchased between September 9 and September 30, remaining in their refrigerators or freezers, they should be discarded immediately or returned to Fresh Thyme for a refund. In Douglas County, NE, if you purchased any of these berries between September 9 and September 30, and still have them, please take them to the local health department for testing.Again, Fresh Thyme is committed to the health and safety of our customers, and we will continue to work closely with these agencies to determine the source of the contamination.”

- Fresh Thyme Farmers Market

There are currently 11 cases associated with the outbreak. Those 11 people who became ill said they ate fresh, non-organic blackberries from Fresh Thyme grocery stores in Nebraska, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Officials said the cases were reported to the Nebraska DHHS over the last several weeks. Four people were hospitalized.

People from the 11 affected states that ate blackberries from Fresh Thyme grocery stores within the past two weeks and haven’t received hepatitis A vaccination should contact their healthcare provider about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

People vaccinated against hepatitis A or who have had hepatitis A do not require PEP.

DHHS officials said symptoms of hepatitis A include:

  • Fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and/or joint pain
  • Severe stomach pains and diarrhea (mainly in children)
  • Yellowing skin or eyes, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A except for supportive care of pain and fever as needed, officials said.

Find FDA advisory and consumer recommendations here.

Additional information about the multistate outbreak is available here.

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