Consumer News

Fresh Thyme Blackberries To Blame For Hepatitis A Outbreak

Federal health officials are encouraging consumers to avoid eating any fresh blackberries purchased from Fresh Thyme stores between September 9 and 30. The fruits from the grocery chain have been linked to the ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in the U.S. 

A total of 11 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Indiana, Nebraska and Wisconsin, with six people hospitalized. Nebraska recorded majority of the cases, CNN reported Thursday

Officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they are now working with state and local officials in investigating the outbreak. Initial reports showed the patients fell ill after eating fresh, non-organic blackberries from Fresh Thyme. 

FDA said the potentially contaminated blackberries came from a distribution center that delivers products to Fresh Thyme stores in 11 states. Affected fruits may be circulating in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Health officials are encouraging residents in the said states to get vaccinated for hepatitis A if they consumed the blackberries from the stores. FDA recommended post-exposure prophylaxis to reduce the risk of infection.

Meanwhile, Fresh Thyme announced that it will work with federal agencies to determine the main source of hepatitis A contamination.

"Fresh Thyme takes the health and safety of our customers and our team members very seriously," the company said in a statement. "Fresh Thyme Farmers Market has a stringent process for ensuring compliance to all local, state and federal health and hygiene regulations."

Hepatitis A In US 

Hepatitis A mainly affects the liver and can be a highly contagious infection. People get the infection by eating contaminated food, using drugs or through close personal and sexual contact. 

The infection can cause fever, fatigue, low appetite, nausea and vomiting. The CDC said the initial symptoms of hepatitis A may occur four weeks after exposure or as early as two weeks. However, they may take up to seven weeks to develop in some cases. 

Despite the availability of vaccines, the number of American adults being infected has been growing over the past years. If left untreated, hepatitis A could lead to liver failure and death.

blackberries Blackberries have anti-inflammatory properties. Pixabay