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FDA Imposes Import Ban on Frozen Strawberries from Egyptian Producer

Oct 27, 2016
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FDA Issued Alert For Frozen Strawberries

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Import Alert for frozen strawberries from the International Company for Agricultural Production & Processing (ICAPP) of Egypt because of hepatitis A contamination.

Frozen strawberries from the Egyptian firm will be detained at the border and cannot be distributed in the United States, Food Safety News reports.

The action was taken because officials have determined that the frozen strawberries from an Egyptian grower-shipper were contaminated with hepatitis A. Officials would not say if the import ban relates to an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak traced to frozen strawberries from Egypt that were used by the Tropical Smoothie Café restaurant chain.

Neither the FDA nor the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) would comment on whether the import ban is related to the hepatitis A outbreak, but the FDA said its investigation is ongoing. The FDA spokesman said the (CDC) "would have to provide information about the outbreak strain."

Hepatitis A  Outbreak sickened People In Nine States

As of this week, the hepatitis A outbreak among patrons of Tropical Smoothie Café locations has sickened 134 people in nine states. Seventy percent of the victims had symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization, Food Safety News reports.

Though the CDC did not specify the hepatitis A strain involved in the current outbreak, a report about a 2013 outbreak involving frozen pomegranate from Turkey, the CDC noted that the (1b) subtype of hepatitis A is largely associated with certain regions of the world, including Egypt. "This genotype is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in North Africa and the Middle East," according to the CDC report.

An article in the medical journal The Lancet reported that a hepatitis A (1b) outbreak in Europe in 2013 was traced to strawberries from Egypt. "In both outbreaks, frozen or fresh strawberries were implicated as the vehicle of infection." Hepatitis A is highly contagious viral infection. It is usually transmitted through person-to-person contact or consumption of contaminated food or water, according to the CDC. More than 80 percent of adults with hepatitis A have symptoms but the majority of children do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool.

Mild cases of hepatitis A generally do not require treatment. Most people recover completely with no permanent liver damage. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. To cope with nausea, the Mayo Clinic recommends snacking throughout the day rather than eating full meals. During the illness, the liver may have difficulty processing medications and alcohol. People with hepatitis A should not drink alcohol while infected and should discuss any medication use with a doctor.

Antibodies produced in response to hepatitis A last for life and protect against reinfection. Children in the U.S. often receive hepatitis A vaccine as part of routine childhood vaccinations, and this has helped limit hepatitis A cases in the United States. There were an estimated 2,500 hepatitis A cases in 2014, the CDC said. Most cases are related to international travel.

Need Legal Help Regarding Import Ban On Frozen Strawberries?

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