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WARNING: Hepatitis A found in Western Family brand pineapple chunks

By Lorraine Graves

Published 9:40 PDT, Fri September 1, 2017

A warning was issued late Friday afternoon by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) that Hepatitis A virus has been found in a sample of Western Family brand fresh pineapple chunks sold in ready-to-go cups.

Sold in stores throughout the province, the product was sold in the Richmond PriceSmart Foods at 8200 Ackroyd Rd. and at Save-on-Foods in Ironwood shopping centre.

Current information indicates the cups were produced on Aug. 11 and distributed to 38 Save-On-Foods, Overwaitea Foods and PriceSmart Foods stores in BC. The Richmond Sentinel's Facebook page contains a list of stores that might be affected.

According to BCCDC, the fruit cups may have been on sale from Aug. 11 and have a best before date of Aug.19.

“The investigation is ongoing,"BCCDC further said in a press release. "Other products are believed to be affected and more information will be provided as it becomes available.”

As a service to the community, BCCDC says,

A free hepatitis A vaccine is available at any Overwaitea banner stores including Save-On-Foods, PriceSmart Foods, Overwaitea Foods and Urban Fare. Shoppers should direct their queries to the pharmacist at any of these stores for more information.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can not only make a person very ill, it can cause ongoing problems and is highly infectious.

Even before symptoms develop, a person can be contagious and it spreads very easily. The symptoms do not always appear at the time of infection and can occur almost two months after the date of infection.

According to BCCDC: “Hepatitis A is an infection caused by a virus that affects the liver. The virus is found in the stool of an infected person. It is spread when a person eats food or drinks water that has come in contact with infected stool. Infected food handlers can pass the virus on to other people if they do not wash their hands with soap and water after using the bathroom.

If you think you have been exposed, talk to your doctor, avoid preparing food for others, and ask about the Hepatitis A vaccine. It can help you if you get (the vaccine) within 14 days of exposure to Hepatitis A.

“Hepatitis A symptoms include yellow skin or eyes, loss of appetite, fever, tiredness, stomach ache, nausea, dark coloured urine, and light or whitish coloured bowel movements,"BCCDC says. "Symptoms can also be so mild that a person may not be aware that they have the disease. Illness can last for several weeks but people generally recover completely. Illness may be life threatening in the elderly or those with other chronic liver disease. Symptoms may develop 15-50 days after exposure.”

While no illnesses have been reported to the BCCDC by people who may have eaten these pineapple chunks, the provincial centre advises:

• If you consumed this product on Aug. 18 or later, you should receive a dose of hepatitis A vaccine.

• If you develop symptoms of Hepatitis A, contact your family doctor and local health unit office immediately.

• Consumers who have frozen the product should discard it.

See the list below for a free Hepatitis A vaccine in your health authority, if you consumed the product within the last 14 days:

Fraser Health:

Interior Health:

Island Health:

Northern Health:

Vancouver Coastal Health:

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