Statement From Chief Medical Officer of Health on Hepatitis A
Today, Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued the following statement:
"Members of the public who consumed Costco's Nature's Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend frozen berries in the last 14 days are advised to get a hepatitis A vaccination as soon as possible. This applies only to individuals who have not been previously fully vaccinated against hepatitis A.
This advisory is in regards to any of this product that was purchased from any Costco location in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador between December 11, 2015, and April 15, 2016.
Costco is working together with public health units across the province to have hepatitis vaccines available for Ontarians. Costco locations are holding free hepatitis A vaccine clinics for individuals affected by the recall. Should consumers have questions or concerns, please contact Costco or your public health unit.
To date, 13 cases of hepatitis A linked to this recall have been reported in Canada, 10 of which have been reported in Ontario.
Details regarding the recall can be found on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has advised that Costco is contacting customers who purchased Nature's Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend to advise them of the recall and offer a hepatitis A vaccine to anyone who consumed their product in the last 14 days. Costco store locations should be contacted directly for details.
Food premises that might have purchased the recalled product for service to the public are asked to contact their local health unit."
Hepatitis A is a virus that can cause a liver infection. Symptoms can last a few days to several months. The virus is rarely fatal and most people develop lifetime immunity following infection. Hepatitis A can be serious, however, especially for older people and those with chronic liver disease. For these individuals, there is a greater risk of hospitalization and death.
This virus is transmitted from person-to-person by the fecal-oral route. It is found in feces of a person infected with the virus and one common route of exposure is food contaminated by infected food handlers. This can occur by directly handling already cooked or ready-to-eat foods with unclean bare hands or through food contact with dirty disposable food handling gloves.
Hepatitis A can be avoided by:
- Not handling or preparing food for anyone if you are ill
- Washing your hands often and thoroughly using soap and water especially after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing or eating food
- If wearing disposable food handling gloves, change them often as gloves cannot be washed and reused
- Avoid sharing common items such as cups and finger foods (for example popcorn)
- Always wash fresh fruits and vegetables such as strawberries and lettuce.