The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has informed that a Hepatitis A outbreak has sickened 89 people in seven U.S. states after they ingested drinks served at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise, which were prepared with contaminated strawberries.

The CDC alongside the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating the case and following people who have reported the disease. According to initial reports, 54 people informed they had drunk a strawberry drink at the food chain. The outbreak has affected seven states within the United States, including Maryland North Carolina, Virgina and West Virginia, where the outbreak started.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe
Tropical Smoothie Cafe store. Image credit:

The contaminated Strawberries came from Egypt

CDC authorities have reported that the batch of contaminated strawberries came from a food supplier in Egypt. Although all of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe chains have removed the batch, it is uncertain whether other restaurants have acquired the same product.

The CDC remarked that Hepatitis A is a disease with a long incubation process and symptoms can take from 15 days to 50 days to appear, so there could be a significant number of patients who have not started to show symptoms. The number of infected people could increase in the following weeks.

The food chain was informed about the outbreak on August 8 and immediately removed the infected batch of strawberries from all stores. Image credit:

70 cases of Hepatitis A have been reported in Virginia, ten have been reported in Maryland, five in West Virginia and one in Wisconsin, Oregon, New York, and North Carolina, respectively.

The Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise is currently working with the CDC, FDA and the Virginia Department of Health on monitoring the cases of ill people. The chain’s CEO, Mike Rotondo, has offered his apologies and informed about the investigation.

“To those who have become ill after eating at one of our cafes, we are deeply sorry. We hope you recover quickly and completely,” read the food chain’s press release.

The food chain has taken immediate actions on the incident by eliminating the Egyptian strawberries from their supplier list and are focusing on importing fruits only from the Americas.

They’re also reviewing all of their food sourcing from “top-to-bottom”, according to the chain, by augmenting their safety practices with the help of an epidemiologists company.

“This situation should not have happened- and we are determined to keep it from happening again,” said the food chain in the published statement.

According to the CDC, Hepatitis A is a liver disease that appears as a minor illness but complicates with the pass of weeks. The primary form of infection is by eating something with fecal matter or by making contact with objects or infected patients.

The first symptoms of the disease include abdominal pain, fatigue, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine, and pale stool. The illness is commonly avoided by mandatory vaccines to children.

The disease has been seen in small numbers in the past few years, according to the CDC there were only 2,500 cases in 2014.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention