Hepatitis A Outbreak Potentially Linked to Blackberries Sold in 11 States

The potentially affected fruit was sold at Fresh Thyme stores.

This is a rough week for food safety. First, ready-made salads were recalled for E. coli contamination. Now, fresh and frozen blackberries sold at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and Woodman’s Market may be linked to cases of hepatitis A.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are actively investigating the outbreak. You can check here for ongoing updates from the FDA.

Here’s what we know

There is a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A illnesses in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin. So far, 18 consumers in those states have gotten sick. 10 of them have been hospitalized. They all reported eating fresh blackberries purchased at Fresh Thyme or Woodman’s Market between September 9 and September 30, 2019. (Editor’s Note: This only affects non-organic berries.)

It appears the potentially contaminated fruit came from a distribution center that ships to Fresh Thyme locations in 11 states: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. A warning has also been issued to shoppers of Woodman’s Market, located in Illinois and Wisconsin. At this time, there is no reason to believe the berries were contaminated in Fresh Thyme or Woodman’s Market stores.

By the way, this is why there have been so many food recalls lately.

Here’s what you need to do

The FDA is urging consumers in any of the 11 affected states to not eat Fresh Thyme blackberries purchased between September 9 and September 30, 2019. The same rule of thumb applies to Woodman’s Markets in Illinois and Wisconsin. An official statement from Fresh Thyme encourages customers to throw potentially contaminated berries away or return them to the store.

Since any fresh berries have likely spoiled by now, it’s important to check your freezer for fruit you may have frozen. You might want to trade in your morning smoothie routine for one of these healthy egg breakfasts, instead.

What is hepatitis A—and what are the symptoms?

According to the FDA, hepatitis A is a contagious virus that can cause liver disease. You can pick it up several different ways—including from contaminated food. Symptoms will develop within 15-50 days of exposure, and often include abdominal pain, nausea and jaundice.

If you’ve eaten Fresh Thyme blackberries, keep an eye out for symptoms and don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor. Fortunately, most people who get hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks, but should recover completely.

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Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.