frozen raspberries

Frozen raspberries sold under the Aldi and Raley’s supermarket private label brands were recalled Thursday because of possible contamination with the hepatitis A virus, the Food and Drug Administration announced.

This virus, which is highly contagious, can infect the liver. 

Aldi has removed the product from its stores in Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

Raley’s Fine Foods pulled the product from all its stores—Raley’s, Bel Air, and Nob Hill Foods. The company’s stores are in California and Nevada.

The berries were produced by Wawona Frozen Foods in Clovis, Calif. No illnesses have been reported.

More on Food Safety

The positive sample was found during testing that’s part of a government sampling program. In November 2018, the FDA began an 18-month testing program of frozen berries, from production plants to stores. The testing checks for the viruses that cause hepatitis A and norovirus.

According to the FDA, there have been three outbreaks of hepatitis A and one of norovirus due to frozen berries between 1997 and 2016. 

Raley’s spokesperson Chelsea Minor said the company notified all its loyalty program customers who purchased the product. “The health of our customers is of most concern,” she said.

Blake Smittcamp, vice president of sales and marketing at Wawona, said: “Our company has identified and accounted for all of the recalled frozen raspberry products and are confident these products are being effectively removed from commerce.”

Aldi did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

A package of the recalled Season's Choice frozen raspberries
Season's Choice frozen raspberries

Check Your Freezer

The recalled products are:

Season’s Choice Raspberries (frozen) 12 ounce bags with best-by dates of June 10, 2021, Aug. 1, 2021, and Aug. 23, 2021. The package also says “Product of Chile.” The UPC code is 0 41498 12419 9, and the lot codes are 20161A, 20213A, and 20235A.

Season’s Choice Berry Medley (frozen) 16 ounce bags with best-by dates of July 17, 2021, July 20, 2021, and July 22, 2021. The package also says “Product of USA, Chile.” The UPC code is 0 41498 31344 9, and the lot codes are 20198A, 20201A, and 20203A.

Raley’s Fresh Frozen Red Raspberries 12 ounce bags with best-by dates of June 5, 2021, and Aug. 1, 2021. The package also says “Product of Chile.” The UPC code is 46567 00754, and the lot codes are 20156A04 and 20213A06.

People who have purchased the berries should not eat them. Return them to the store for a refund.

Season’s Choice Berry Medley frozen berries
Season’s Choice Berry Medley

How Does Hepatitis A Get Into Berries?

Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver. Unlike other types of hepatitis, hepatitis A isn’t chronic—it usually clears up on its own. Symptoms include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and jaundice.

There’s no treatment for hepatitis A. Symptoms usually last less than two months, but in some people they can last up to six months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In rare cases, it can cause liver failure and death. There is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis A. And if you have been infected with the virus, you can’t get it again. 

It isn’t known how the berries involved in this particular recall became contaminated, but in general the virus is spread by what experts call the “fecal oral route.”

“If a food worker has the virus and doesn’t adequately wash his or her hands after using the bathroom, the food could become contaminated,” says James E. Rogers, Ph.D., director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports. Contaminated water could also be the source.

“Cooking would kill hepatitis A, but freezing does not,” Rogers says. “Most people don’t cook frozen berries, in any case."

The Details

Products recalled: Frozen Season’s Choice Raspberries 12-ounce bags and Season’s Choice Berry Medley 16-ounce bags sold at Aldi supermarkets. Raley’s Fresh Frozen Red Raspberries sold at Raley’s, Bel Aire, and Nob Hill Foods stores. (For best-by dates and UPC and lot codes, see above.)

The problem: The raspberries may be contaminated with hepatitis A.

The fix: Consumers who have these berries in their freezers should not eat them. Return them to the store where they were purchased for a refund.

How to contact the manufacturer: Consumers with questions can call Wawona Frozen Foods at 866-913-0667.

How to report foodborne illness: If you experience foodborne illness or other problems with your food, you can report it to your local health department, contact your state’s Food and Drug Administration Consumer Complaint Coordinator, or call the FDA at 866-300-4374. Report problems with meat, poultry, and processed egg products to the Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service on its website or by phone to the USDA at 888-674-6854.