Update: Fresh Thyme added this statement:
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.
OMAHA, Nebraska - A Douglas County Health Department investigation has identified the potential source of four linked cases of Hepatitis A in Douglas County that are connected to two other Nebraska cases plus cases in two other Midwestern states. The infected individuals all purchased fresh, non-organic blackberries on sale at Fresh Thyme between the 9th and 30th of September.
“Our Epidemiology Section played a crucial role in launching what has become a national investigation,” said Douglas County Health Director, Dr. Adi Pour. “Their work has been exceptional from the start and continues as we resolve this case.”
It is believed that any contaminated blackberries are off retail shelves, but anyone who purchased fresh, non-organic blackberries on sale from Fresh Thyme between September 9th and 30th and froze them for future use should dispose of those frozen berries.
Anyone who purchased fresh, non-organic blackberries during those September sale, froze them and then ate some during the past two weeks, should contact your health care provider for preventive care.
This outbreak was uncovered in Nebraska by the Douglas County Health Department. While the production source of the berries has not been determined, once Douglas County and state officials began their investigation, additional cases were uncovered in Indiana and Wisconsin.
Hepatitis A is a contagious virus that can cause liver disease. Hepatitis A infection symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, jaundice, dark urine or pale stool. Children under six may not have symptoms. Illness usually occurs within 15 to 50 days after eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
A Hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. In rare cases, particularly consumers who have a pre-existing severe illness or are immune compromised, Hepatitis A infections can progress to liver failure.