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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

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What is Clostridium perfringens?

Clostridium perfringens are bacteria that produce toxins harmful to humans. Clostridium perfringens and its toxins are found everywhere in the environment, but human infection is most likely to come from eating food with Clostridium perfringens in it. Food poisoning from Clostridium perfringens fairly common, but is typically not too severe, and is often mistaken for the 24-hour flu.

The majority of outbreaks are associated with undercooked meats, often in large quantities of food prepared for a large group of people and left to sit out for long periods of time. Because of this, it is sometimes referred to as the “food service germ.” Meat products such as stews, casseroles, and gravy are the most common sources of illness from C. perfringens. Most outbreaks come from food whose temperature is poorly controlled. If food is kept between 70 and 140 F, it is likely to grow Clostridium perfringens bacteria.

People generally experience symptoms of Clostridium perfringens infection 6 to 24 hours after consuming the bacteria or toxins. Clostridium perfringens toxins cause abdominal pain and stomach cramps, followed by diarrhea. Nausea is also a common symptom. Fever and vomiting are not normally symptoms of poisoning by Clostridium perfringens toxins.

Illness from Clostridium perferingens generally lasts around 24 hours, and is rarely fatal.

The Type C strain of Clostridium perfringens can cause a more serious condition called Pig-bel Syndrome. This syndrome can cause death of intestinal cells and can often be fatal.

To prevent infection by Clostridium perfringens, follow the these tips:

  • Cook foods containing meat thoroughly
  • If keeping foods out, make sure they maintain a temperature of 140 F (60 C)
  • When storing food in the refrigerator, divide it into pieces with a thickness of three inches or less so that it cools faster
  • Reheat foods to at least 165 F (74 C)

References

Clostridium perfringens.” Illinois Department of Public Health. Available at http://www.idph.state.il.us/Bioterrorism/factsheets/clostridium.htm.
Rohrs, Barbara. “Clostridium perfringens.” Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences. Available at http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5568.html.

Wisconsin Dairy Bull Calves Likely Link in Salmonella Outbreak

Portrait of the cute baby bull calfCDC is working with Wisconsin health, agriculture, and laboratory agencies, several other states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) to investigate a multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg infections.

Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory findings have identified dairy bull calves from livestock markets in Wisconsin as the likely source of infections. Dairy bull calves are young, male cattle that have not been castrated and may be raised for meat. Dairy bull calves in this outbreak have also been purchased for use with 4-H projects.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about any contact with animals and foods eaten in the week before becoming ill. Of the 19 people interviewed, 15 (79%) reported contact with dairy bull calves or other cattle. Some of the ill people interviewed reported that they became sick after their dairy bull calves became ill or died.

One ill person’s dairy calves were tested for the presence of Salmonella bacteria. This laboratory testing identified Salmonella Heidelberg in the calves. Further testing using WGS showed that isolates from ill people are closely related genetically to isolates from these calves. This close genetic relationship means that the human infections in this outbreak are likely linked to ill calves.

Traceback information available at this time indicates that most calves in this outbreak originated in Wisconsin. Wisconsin health and agriculture officials continue to work with other states to identify herds that may be affected.

big-map-11-25-16Public health investigators used the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may have been part of this outbreak. 

Twenty-one people infected with an outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from eight states. A list of states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Case Count Map page.

Among 19 people with available information, illnesses started on dates ranging from January 11, 2016 to October 24, 2016. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 72, with a median age of 21. Sixty-two percent of ill people are female. Among 19 ill people with available information, 8 (42%) reported being hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

WGS showed that isolates from ill people are closely related genetically to one another. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.

Calling All New Sea Hawaii Victims: Settlement reached in 2013 Bronx Hepatitis A Lawsuit

Successful class action lawsuit seeks beneficiaries of $200,000 settlement

A settlement has been reached in the class action lawsuit against New Hawaii Sea Restaurant, formerly of the Bronx, New York. Approximately 3,000 people received Hepatitis A vaccinations after being exposed to the illness by the restaurant in September 2013 and all are included in the class-action lawsuit.

The deadline for applying to receive a portion of the $200,000 settlement is December 16th, 2016.  Those interested in benefiting from the class action settlement should visit www.NewHawaiiHepA.com for more information.

According to the settlement, potential class members who may benefit by this settlement include anyone who ate or drank food from the New Hawaii Sea Restaurant from September 7-19, 2013, or were exposed to someone who did, and obtained a blood test and immune globulin (IG) or Hepatitis A vaccination shot within 30 days of eating at the restaurant. Those who actually developed Hepatitis A infections after eating at the restaurant are not included in this settlement.

Bill Marler of Marler Clark LLP, an expert on Hepatitis outbreaks, is available for comment on the outcome of the case. Marler is the nation’s premiere legal expert on foodborne illness and has represented victims of various foodborne illnesses. If you would like to speak with Mr. Marler, please contact Colleen McMahon (colleen@quinnbrein.com), Samantha Jones (sam@quinnbrein.com), or call (206) 842-8922.

Marler Clark, LLC has been an advocate for victims of foodborne illnesses for decades, and have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illnesses.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Marler Clark attorneys have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods. The firm has brought lawsuits against companies such as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

If you would like more information regarding the New Sea Hawaii outbreak and settlement, or would like to schedule an interview with an expert from Marler Clark, please contact Colleen McMahon (colleen@quinnbrein.com), Samantha Jones (Sam@quinnbrein.com) or call (206) 842-8922.

99 Sick After Alabama Wedding

The Alabama Department of Public Health has determined that the Salmonella outbreak last week in Colbert County that reportedly sickened at least 99 patients and hospitalized 22 is most likely linked to a meal prepared for a private event. Eighteen of the hospitalized persons have been discharged home and the remaining hospitalized patients are recovering. Approximately 150 persons attended the private event.

The investigation is ongoing, but preliminary reports indicate the state health department laboratory has identified Salmonella enteriditis (a common foodborne germ) in food specimens of cooked chicken as well as green beans.

Dr. Karen Landers, Assistant State Health Officer, Bureau of Communicable Disease, states that chicken was likely the primary source of the germ as raw chicken can be contaminated with Salmonella. Chicken has to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the germ. Finding Salmonella in the green beans during this investigation was probably from cross contamination such as using the same serving utensils for the beans and the chicken.

Dr. Scott Harris, Assistant State Health Officer for Public Health Area 2, where the catering business was located, states that he issued an emergency order to suspend the caterer’s permit last week pending further investigation. The caterer, Indelible Catering of Moulton, is no longer preparing food for the public.

Salmonella outbreaks reported by the CDC in 2016 were linked to contaminated eggs, poultry, meat, unpasteurized milk and juice, cheese, contaminated raw fruits and vegetables (alfalfa sprouts, melons), spices and nuts.

Food safety practices can reduce the risk of foodborne outbreaks. Some measures to reduce illness include keeping food properly refrigerated before cooking, washing hands with soap and warm water before handling foods, and cleaning surfaces before preparing foods on them.

Follow these practices when preparing foods:

  • Separate cooked foods from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Do not use utensils on cooked foods that were previously used on raw foods and do not place cooked foods on plates where raw foods once were unless the plates have been cleaned thoroughly.
  • Cook foods to a safe internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to a safe temperature.
  • Chill foods promptly after serving and when transporting from one place to another. Safe temperatures for food preparation are available on many websites including foodsafety.gov.

Salmonella:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Salmonella Prompts World-Wide Recall of Hawaii “Kahuku Ogo”, “Robusta Ogo” and “Kahuku Sea Asparagus”

Marine Agrifuture, LLC. of Kahuku, HI, is recalling its “Kahuku Ogo”, “Robusta Ogo” and  “Kahuku Sea Asparagus” because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

The recalled “Kahuku Ogo”, “Robusta Ogo”, and  “Kahuku Sea Asparagus” were distributed mainly in Hawaii to Seafood and Produce Distributors through direct delivery, but also to some customers in CA, WA, NV, and Tokyo Japan, and retailed at local Farmers Markets in Hawaii.

The Ogo products come in a plastic bag of various weights from 0.5 LB to 35 LB, which were sold from November 2, 2016 and prior, and the Sea Asparagus in 4 Ounce, 1 LB clear plastic clamshell or in a 5 LB of plastic bag marked with a tracking number stamped on the lids or bags, which were sold from November 8, 2016 and prior. The corresponding UPC number for 4 OZ, 1 LB, and 5 LB of sea asparagus are 897680001010, 897680001027, and 897680001041 respectively.

Fourteen cases of Salmonella on Oahu have been reported to date in connection with this problem. The potential for contamination was noted after special tests by the Hawaii Department of Health revealed the presence of Salmonella in saltwater in the farm production and processing areas.

Production of the product has been suspended while FDA and the company continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.

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Salmonella:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Latest on Tropical Smoothie Cafe Hepatitis A Outbreak

Several states, CDC, and the FDA investigated a multistate outbreak of foodborne hepatitis A. Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicate frozen strawberries imported from Egypt are the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, nearly all ill people interviewed reported drinking smoothies containing strawberries at Tropical Smoothie Café locations prior to August 8 in a limited geographical area, including Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, but there have been a small number of cases outside of that geographic area with no Tropical Smoothie Café exposure.

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134 people with hepatitis A have been reported from nine states: Arkansas (1), California (1), Maryland (12), New York (3), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1), Virginia (107), West Virginia (7), and Wisconsin (1). 129 of these cases reported eating a smoothie containing strawberries from Tropical Smoothie Café. There have been no cases reporting illness from this same exposure since September 23, 2016. 5 cases had no exposure to Tropical smoothie café. The latest illness onset date among these cases was October 1, 2016.  The investigation into these cases is ongoing. 52 ill people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

FDA traceback information indicated that the frozen strawberries served in the Tropical Smoothie Café locations were from the International Company for Agricultural Production & Processing (ICAPP), imported from Egypt. On August 8, 2016, Tropical Smoothie Café reported that they removed the Egyptian frozen strawberries from their restaurants in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia and switched to another supplier out of an abundance of caution. Information available at this time does not indicate an ongoing risk of hepatitis A virus infection at Tropical Smoothie Cafes.

On October 30, 2016, the International Company for Agricultural Production & Processing (ICAPP) recalled all of its frozen strawberries that were imported into the U.S. since January 1, 2016. The recalled products were distributed for sale to and use in food service establishments nationwide. The FDA reports that hepatitis A virus contamination was found in four samples of ICAPP frozen strawberries.

Hepatitis A:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Costco, Subway, McDonald’s, Red Robin, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.  We proudly represented the family of Donald Rockwell, who died after consuming hepatitis A tainted food and Richard Miller, wo required a liver transplant after eating food at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant.

If you or a family member became ill with a Hepatitis A infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Hepatitis A attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Latest Update on Hawaii Scallops Hepatitis A Outbreak

On August 15, 2016, the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) identified raw scallops served at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai as a likely source of the ongoing outbreak. The product of concern is Sea Port Bay Scallops (Wild Harvest, Raw Frozen) that originated in the Philippines (states “Product of the Philippines” on the box), distributed by Koha Oriental Foods.  As a result, HDOH ordered this product embargoed (not to be sold, purchased, or consumed) throughout the state, and the temporary closure of all Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai.

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HDOH has identified 292 cases of hepatitis A. Seventy-four (74) have required hospitalization. Findings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Eleven (11) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and seven visitors have returned to the mainland or overseas. Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 10/9/16.

The FDA and CDC are supporting the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) in an investigation of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections linked to scallops supplied by Sea Port Products Corp. On August 17, 2016, the FDA, Hawaii DOH, CDC and state partners informed Sea Port Products Corp that epidemiological, laboratory and traceback information indicates their scallops are the likely source of illnesses. On August 18, 2016, Sea Port Products Corp initiated a voluntary recall of three lots of frozen Bay Scallops produced on November 23, 2015 and 24, 2015. The lot numbers are 5885, 5886, and 5887. The products were distributed to California, Hawaii, and Nevada. According to Sea Port Products Corp, the recalled products are not intended for retail sale. The FDA is working with the recalling firm to ensure their recall is effective and that recalled product is removed from the market.

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The FDA’s traceback investigation involved working with Hawaii DOH to trace the path of food eaten by those made ill back to a common source. The traceback investigation determined that Sea Port Products Corp imported the scallops that were later supplied to certain Genki Sushi locations in Hawaii, where ill people reported eating.

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On August 17, 2016, FDA laboratory analysis of two scallop samples, which were collected on August 11, 2016, were confirmed positive for hepatitis A. These samples were imported by Sea Port Products Corp and were produced on November 23, 2015 and 24, 2015.

Hepatitis A:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Costco, Subway, McDonald’s, Red Robin, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.  We proudly represented the family of Donald Rockwell, who died after consuming hepatitis A tainted food and Richard Miller, wo required a liver transplant after eating food at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant.

If you or a family member became ill with a Hepatitis A infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Hepatitis A attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Salmonella in Oahu, Hawaii from yet named source

The Hawaii State Department of Health is investigating 14 cases of Salmonella infection (salmonellosis) on Oahu. Reported cases include both children and adults. All of the cases developed diarrheal illness from mid- to late October and four have required hospitalization. Although a source has not yet been confirmed, preliminary investigations identified consumption of raw fish, specifically poke that contains limu (also called “ogo” or “seaweed”), in common among cases. The tainted limu has been linked to a seaweed farm on Oahu which was ordered by the department to halt operations and advise its customers to remove product from sale immediately.

“Although our investigation is still ongoing, our preliminary investigation has implicated limu, also known as ogo or seaweed, produced at a particular farm on Oahu,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “To protect the public’s health, the department stepped in to make sure this product is no longer being put on the market pending further investigation. At the same time, we want the public to be aware of the situation so they may seek medical care if needed.”

Salmonella is a group of bacteria that can cause illness in humans who come in contact with affected animals or their waste, either by direct contact or by contaminated food or water. Common symptoms of Salmonella infection are diarrhea (which may be bloody), abdominal pain, and fever. Nausea and vomiting can also occur. Symptoms typically begin within 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria. Persons who are experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care. Infants and the elderly, as well as persons with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems, are vulnerable to more serious illness and even death.

As with many other foodborne illnesses, Salmonella infection can be prevented by thoroughly cooking food to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Washing hands, kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw food is also an effective preventive measure. Thorough handwashing after contact with animals, especially birds and reptiles, or pet feces can also prevent spread of Salmonella. There is no vaccine to prevent Salmonellosis.

Salmonella:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Louisburg Cider Mill Ciderfest Linked to E. coli Outbreak

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is currently conducting an outbreak investigation of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 cases among persons who attended the Louisburg Cider Mill Ciderfest, which was held September 24-25 and October 1-2. To date, there are seven laboratory-confirmed cases associated with this investigation. However, this investigation is ongoing and information is subject to change. The Kansas Department of Agriculture along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and KDHE performed an on-site assessment on October 27.

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FDA Weighs in on Hepatitis A Egyptian Strawberry Problem

150522130633-strawberries-medium-plus-169Update 11/3/2016: The FDA has learned that frozen strawberry products subject to recall by The International Company for Agricultural Production and Processing (ICAPP), including but not limited to whole, sliced and sugared, and diced strawberries, may have been served in food service operations as recently as October 27, 2016.

The FDA recommends that institutions and food service operations supplied by any of the five companies identified below immediately reach out to their suppliers and determine if they received frozen strawberry product recalled by ICAPP. Then, if needed, institutions and food service operations that find they served any recalled product within the last two weeks should contact their local health department and communicate to their customers regarding possible exposure to hepatitis A virus and the potential benefit of post exposure prophylaxis.

The FDA and CDC are not currently aware of any illnesses related to any recalled products other than whole frozen strawberries. However, because hepatitis A can have serious health consequences, CDC advises post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for unvaccinated persons who have consumed any of the recalled frozen strawberry products in the last 2 weeks. PEP offers no preventive benefit to persons whose exposure occurred more than 2 weeks ago.

The five consignees who received recalled frozen strawberry products from ICAPP are:

C.H. Belt of Lake Forest, Ca. (sold under CH World Brand)

Jetro/Restaurant Depot of College Point, N.Y. (sold under James Farm brand and unbranded “Bits & Pieces”)

Sysco Corporation of Houston, Tex. (sold under Sysco brand)

Patagonia Foods of San Luis Obispo, Ca. (sold under Patagonia brand)

Reddy Raw of Woodridge, N.J. (sold under Regal brand).

The FDA is working with these firms to help identify further downstream customers who may have received the recalled frozen strawberry products. More product information in table below.

The FDA, CDC and state and local officials are investigating hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections linked to frozen whole strawberries in smoothies served in Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurant locations.

On October 19, 2016 the FDA placed frozen strawberries from ICAPP on Import Alert 99-35 after multiple positive samples confirmed hepatitis A in the product.

As of October 20, 2016, CDC reports 134 people with hepatitis A linked to this outbreak have been reported from 9 states (AR, CA, MD, NC, NY, OR, VA, WI and WV).

129 of these cases reported eating a smoothie containing strawberries from Tropical Smoothie Café. There have been no cases reporting illness from this same exposure since September 23, 2016.

5 cases had no exposure to Tropical smoothie café. The latest illness onset date among these cases was 10/1/2016.

The investigation into these cases is ongoing.

According to the CDC, information available at this time does not indicate an ongoing risk of acquiring hepatitis A virus infection at Tropical Smoothie Café’s.  Tropical Smoothie Café reported that they removed these strawberries from their Cafés nationwide on August 19.

On October 25, 2016, ICAPP recalled all frozen strawberries and frozen strawberry products that it has imported into the United States since January 1, 2016. These include whole, sliced and sugared, and diced frozen strawberries.