Frozen strawberries are suspected of being the source of an outbreak of 52 cases of hepatitis A across Scandinavia, leading Coop to withdraw them from its stores.
The berries are from Egypt and Morocco and sold under the names “Sund Fornuft Jordbær”, “Irma Jordbær” and “Coop Jordbær”, and have been sold by Fakta, Irma, Dagli´Brugsen, LokalBrugsen, Kvickly and SuperBrugsen.
“We are not sure these berries are to blame for the outbreak but we dare not risk the health of our customers,” Coop spokesperson Karin Frøidt told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “We are [withdrawing the berries] to be extra safe.”
Consumers are being urged to either throw the strawberries away or return them to the store where they bought them.
Jyllands-Posten last week reported that the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), food authority Fødevarestyrelsen, and state disease control agency SSI have been investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
While the strawberries appear to be linked to the outbreak, no samples have yet tested positive for the virus that leads to fever, nausea and stomach pains.
Through Coop's participation in the investigation it was discovered that many of those who had fallen ill had bought frozen strawberries from one of the chains it operates.
Frøidt explained that only some of the berries would have been contaminated as the number of those who have been infected is much lower than the number of bags the chain sells.
She apologised to consumers who had eaten frozen strawberries recently and may now be concerned for their health.
“We are terribly sorry if we create unnecessary worry, but if there’s a risk that any of the berries are infected then the most responsible action is to remove them all,” Frøidt said.