Norovirus could be spreading
Austin Lampky, Staff Writer
The coronavirus is not the only contagion that has plagued the United States. On Mar. 13, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and WinCo Foods announced that several of their frozen berry products were recalled under suspicion of Norovirus contamination.
“Taste of Home’s” Laurie Dixon reported on Mar. 16 in her article, “Frozen Berries Recalled in 10 States Because of Possible Norovirus Contamination,” that several packages of frozen berries were recalled. This was after WinCo Foods reported their findings from a “standard produce test” conducted by the store, which found signs of norovirus activity in “16-ounce packages of blackberries and 16-ounce and 32-ounce packages of berry medleys” to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to Dixon’s article.
As Dixon stated, “All three varieties were sold at WinCo foods.” According to Allison Aulds’ WebMD article “Frozen Berries Recalled Over Norovirus Fears,” these products came from Rader Farms, located in Lynden, Washington.
Because of this finding, Dixon states the recall “affects ten states in total: Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, Texas, and Utah.”
Fortunately, the recall appears to have come just in time, as no one has reported experiencing symptoms of the Norovirus.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, “Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. People of all ages can get infected and sick with norovirus.” It is also not a virus that is a once come, never returns illness.
“You can contract Norovirus many times in your life because there are many different types of noroviruses. Infection with one type of norovirus may not protect you against other types,” according to the CDC.
Although symptoms commonly “include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain,” other symptoms like a headache, a fever, or an aching body can present themselves, according to the CDC. There is also a high risk someone who comes into close contact with an infected individual will begin to experience symptoms themselves.
The CDC also said “People with norovirus illness can shed billions of norovirus particles. And only a few virus particles can make other people sick.”
Aulds’ article advised that, “The best way to prevent [the norovirus] is by washing your hands, thoroughly rinsing produce, and avoiding contact with people who have it.”
This is not the first time a Norovirus outbreak has been connected to berry products. Back in 2019, on Jun. 21, U.S. news reported that several stores in East Coast states (including Florida and New York), were recalling products distributed by Tipton Grove — specifically their Frozen Mixed Berries products – for fear of possible norovirus activity.
For consumers who have recently visited WinCo foods and have purchased their frozen berry products, the “Taste of Home” article highlights steps one can take to determine bags cited as potentially contaminated. Each bag has a “Best By” label specifying Dec. 9, 2021 as the expiration date. Furthermore, the site also lists universal product codes of the specific packages which are “typically stamped on the front of the package.”
If products now at home are discovered to fit the above-listed parameters, according to Dixon, consumers should return said bags to the store for a refund, or properly dispose of them. The FDA advises that, under no circumstances, should one consume potentially contaminated products.
Furthermore, Dixon said, “For questions about the recall, feel free to reach out to WinCo’s customer service department at 1-800-824-1706, hours Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. MST.”
She also notes consumers can stay up to date with grocery recalls through the “FoodKeeper” app, an outlet she said “helps you and your kitchen stay ahead of the news.”