Scroll back up to restore default view.
Not just strawberries: These foods are also more likely to be contaminated with hepatitis A
Thu, June 9, 2022, 8:00 AM·4 min read
Fresh organic strawberries have recently been identified as the source of a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A — a very contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). In 2016, there was another outbreak of hepatitis A with frozen strawberries.But it’s not just strawberries. Here’s a look at which foods carry at greater risk of becoming contaminated with hepatitis A — and how best to protect yourself.
What foods are most likely to be contaminated with hepatitis A?
“In theory, any food can be contaminated with hepatitis A,” Dr. Victor Chen, assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. “In practice, more commonly contaminated foods include raw vegetables — including salads — and fruit, shellfish, ice and water.”
All foods are at risk of contamination with hepatitis A virus if they are handled by someone who has come into contact with the virus or rinsed food in water that is dirty and contaminated. Although it’s not too common in the U.S., since 2011, previous food-related outbreaks of hepatitis A occurred in raw scallops, frozen tuna, conventional blackberries, and pomegranate seeds.
Is organic produce more likely to be contaminated with hepatitis A?
Organic produce “certainly does not protect a consumer from getting hepatitis A,” says Chen.
According to a 2016 study, in the U.S. there have been more foodborne outbreaks associated with organic foods than conventionally grown ones. Between 1992 and 2014, 18 viral and bacterial outbreaks were caused by organic foods, with 8 of those outbreaks involving produce. However, it’s important to note that there’s been more recent outbreaks in organic food as more people are producing and consuming organic food, too.
What we do know for sure is that the risk of any produce becoming contaminated with hepatitis A increases with poor sanitation and poor hygiene, regardless of whether it was grown organically or conventionally.