The International Company for Agricultural Production & Processing (ICAPP), based in Ramadan City, Egypt, is voluntarily recalling frozen strawberries in response to the ongoing investigation into a multistate outbreak of Hepatitis A in the United States. ICAPP imports strawberries for restaurants and food services in the United States.
The Food and Drug Administration’s recall announcement, dated Sunday 30 October, stated that the company’s action was taken in consultation with FDA because the Hepatitis A virus was detected in four lots of frozen strawberries ICAPP exported to the U.S.
The federal agency added that ICAPP is working closely with all of its distributors in this country to make sure that the recall is effective.
FDA issued an Import Alert for the company’s strawberries on Oct. 19, indicating that the frozen berries would not be admitted into the U.S. However, at the time the agency did not specifically connect the product to the Hepatitis A outbreak that has been linked to smoothies served at Tropical Smoothie Café outlets.
However, FDA’s latest update on the investigation, posted Oct. 20, notes the following: “Nearly all ill people interviewed report eating smoothies containing strawberries at Tropical Smoothie locations in a limited geographic area. Preliminary traceback information indicates that the frozen strawberries served in these Tropical Smoothie Café locations were imported from Egypt. Tropical Smoothie Café has stopped using these strawberries nationwide.”
FDA noted in the Oct. 30 recall announcement, that the lots of frozen Egyptian strawberries were all distributed for sale to, and use in, foodservice establishments nationwide and not for use in food products offered for retail sale to consumers.
Even so, the agency added that ICAPP was “issuing this news release publicly to help mitigate any possible risk to the public health and to fully ensure that all recalled products are recovered.”
“Although none of ICAPP’s own testing, through an established surveillance program or through third party testing of retained samples, has identified the presence of Hepatitis A in any of its products, ICAPP has decided to recall all frozen strawberries that it has imported into the United States since January 1, 2016 out of an abundance of caution,” according to the recall announcement.
No other ICAPP products, frozen or fresh, are covered by this voluntary recall, FDA added.