Strawberries Give Hepatitis A to Shoppers: What You Need to Know


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These berries look healthy, right?

Charlotte Comeaux, Reporter

I love Trader Joe’s. Everything there is healthy and not too expensive, unlike Whole Foods or Central Market. I am constantly running to Trader Joe’s to get bags of frozen fruit because I make an outrageous amount of smoothies. However, I may start to avoid the frozen fruit they sell.

Recently, I woke up one morning and decided to venture over to Trader Joe’s. I told my mom that I was heading over to collect my weekly pound of frozen fruit. When I got to the store I looked at my phone and saw a text from her that said “Don’t buy frozen fruit from Trader Joe’s for a bit,” with an attachment to a Yahoo article.

The article explained that Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Aldi have the same product vendor for frozen strawberries, Scenic Fruit Company (in some parts of the country). The strawberries from Scenic Fruit are sold in the tropical fruit mix in Trader Joe’s, but supposedly not in the regular frozen strawberry bags. However, other companies sell the strawberries in their own packages. 

I spoke with School Nurse Lori McCormack about the recall. 

“Food borne illnesses are still a thing in the US,”  McCormack said.

Just because you’re buying food at a well known chain doesn’t mean it’s totally safe. Recalls happen for a number of reasons. Food can be recalled because of unlisted ingredients, food contaminants, or food borne illnesses, like in this scenario. If a product you buy has been recalled, you may be able to return it to the store you purchased it from and get a full refund. The USDA and the FDA regulate food and when food violates food standard codes, companies are forced to stop selling the product until they can get the problem solved and under control.

Trader Joe’s has also recalled more products due to failing to list all of the ingredients of an item. This can be a deadly issue because people can consume food that they are allergic to without knowing that the allergens are in the food, which can cause allergic reactions, anaphylactic shock, and possibly death.

Recently, it was reported that across Washington, California, and Oregon, nine people had contracted Hepatitis A and it is assumed but not definite that the strawberries are the cause of the disease’s spread. Three people had to go to the hospital to be treated for Hep A, but nobody had died.

The CDC reported that they are pretty sure that the fruit is why multiple people contracted Hepatitis A. Also, if a person has contracted the disease, they should get vaccinated “within two weeks of exposure” to the food.

“Hepatitis A can cause long term liver damage and is highly contagious,” McCormack said.

Because of this, Scenic Farms recalled their frozen strawberries from all of the stores they are vendors to, and Trader Joe’s has stopped selling their tropical fruit mix. Also, in California, a company named California Splendor, Inc. recalled some of their bags of frozen strawberries because of the outbreak (the bags were recalled only in certain Hawaii and California stores).  When I bought my frozen fruit from Trader Joe’s because I decided that I would take my chances for a semi-decent smoothie, there was a piece of paper taped to the check-out counter. The paper had a picture of the tropical fruit mix and explained the reason for pulling the product from the shelves. My sister pointed to it and told me that I shouldn’t buy the fruit, and the cashier told us he didn’t know what it was because he had not read it. I think it’s good that they at least are warning people against the product even though it could hurt business.

Scenic Farms ships their products to multiple stores and different states depending on the stores they work with. Trader Joes has decided to remove the organic tropical fruit mix from all stores across the country. If you have eaten frozen strawberries in the tropical fruit blend from Trader Joe’s or frozen strawberries from a store that has recalled their strawberries and feel sick, maybe go see a doctor out of precaution.

“I think that it is preposterous that a seemingly reliable and trustworthy grocery store could do such a thing to its loving clientele,” Gigi Shueneman ’26 said.

For more information about the recall, click here.