(UNDATED) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A illnesses in Indiana, Nebraska, and Wisconsin potentially linked to fresh conventional (non-organic) blackberries from the grocery store, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.
Based on the epidemiological information collected in the investigation thus far, ill patients reported consuming fresh conventional blackberries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in three states: Indiana, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.
However, traceback information to date shows that these berries came from a distribution center that ships fresh berries to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in 11 states: IA, IL, IN, KY, MI, MO, MN, NE, OH, PA, and WI. As this investigation continues, the FDA will work with our federal and state partners to obtain additional information during the traceback investigation and will update this advisory as more information becomes available.
The FDA is urging consumers to not eat any fresh conventional blackberries if purchased between September 9 and September 30, 2019, from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in the 11 states mentioned above. People who purchased the fresh blackberries and then froze those berries for later consumption should not eat these berries. They should be thrown away.
If consumers purchased fresh conventional blackberries from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores in the 11 states listed above between September 9-30, ate those berries in the last two weeks, and have not been vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus (HAV), they should consult with their healthcare professional to determine whether post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is indicated.
PEP is recommended for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to HAV in the last two weeks. Those with evidence of previous hepatitis A vaccination or previous hepatitis A infection do not require PEP.
Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may have become ill from eating these blackberries, or if you believe that you have eaten these berries in the last two weeks.
Official Statement from Fresh Thyme
The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control, in conjunction with other state and local agencies, have contacted us concerning a recent Hepatitis A outbreak in three states in the Midwest affecting an unspecified number of individuals. These agencies are investigating and believe that affected people may have consumed fresh conventional (non-organic) blackberries between September 9 and September 30, 2019. We are fully cooperating with these agencies on the investigation and are awaiting next steps.
At this time, there is no reason to believe that any of the product was contaminated via handling in our stores. In addition, the agencies are ONLY concerned with product purchased between September 9 and September 30; product purchased or consumed outside of these dates are NOT subject to the investigation. We are working with these agencies to identify our suppliers and isolate the source of this contamination. Fresh Thyme takes the health and safety of our customers and our team members very seriously. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market has a stringent process for ensuring compliance to all local, state and federal health and hygiene regulations.
Should any customers have any of the fresh conventional blackberries purchased between September 9 and September 30, remaining in their refrigerators or freezers, they should be discarded immediately or returned to Fresh Thyme for a refund. In Douglas County, NE, if you purchased any of these berries between September 9 and September 30, and still have them, please take them to the local health department for testing.
Again, Fresh Thyme is committed to the health and safety of our customers, and we will continue to work closely with these agencies to determine the source of the contamination.