Nfld. & Labrador

Costco fruit recall: Get immunized immediately, consumers warned

Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical officer is warning people who have eaten or handled contaminated fruit to get vaccinated within 14 days.

Doctor warns potentially infected people should get immunized immediately

Chief medical officer David Allison says he wasn't surprised to hear about the recent hepatitis A outbreak. (CBC)

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  • This story was originally published in April 2016.

Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical officer is warning people who have eaten or handled contaminated fruit to get vaccinated within 14 days. 

David Allison told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show "it came at no particular surprise" to hear that frozen fruit sold at some Costco stores was linked to hepatitis A.

"With food coming from all around the world, that can certainly be a problem."

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall on Nature's Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend, a frozen product with best before dates up to and including March 16, 2018.

Allison said that one person in the province has contracted hepatitis as a result, but no other cases have been found. Twelve other cases have been identified in provinces across Canada. 

"Obviously we have concerns and so if people do have symptoms of hepatitis, they should see their doctor. There's a blood test that can be done to check it out," he said. 

The CFIA has issued a recall for Nature's Touch Organic Cherry Berry Blend with best-before dates up to and including March 15, 2018. (Canadian Food Inspection Agency)

Allison said jaundice usually presents itself in teenagers and adults who have contracted the disease.

"Your eyes and skin turn yellow, you feel pretty sick and that may last for a couple of weeks before it settles down," he described. 

Children with hepatitis, however, generally present minimal symptoms.

Anybody that has been eating or preparing food with the berries is probably at the greatest risk.- David Allison

 According to Costco, approximately 1,600 households in the province have purchased the product.

"Anybody that has been eating or preparing food with the berries is probably at the greatest risk," said Allison. 

Hepatitis is often transmitted before symptoms appear so Allison said clean work surfaces and clean hands can prevent a potential spread. 

While vaccines "aren't easy to come by," Costco is offering post-exposure immunization to those who have come into contact with the berries.

Allison said it's important to note that immunization is only effective within the first 14 days of contact. 

Corrections

  • A prior version of this story incorrectly said David Allison works for Eastern Health. He is the chief medical officer for Newfoundland and Labrador.
    Apr 25, 2016 4:18 PM NT

With files from the St. John's Morning Show