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  1. Sampling to Protect the Food Supply

Microbiological Surveillance Sampling: FY 19-20 Frozen Berries (Strawberries, Raspberries and Blackberries)


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Frozen Berries

Frozen berries are used as ingredients in many foods and, like other produce, can be an important part of a healthy eating pattern. While frozen berries are used in pies and other baked goods, they are also used raw in fruit salads or smoothies and have been associated with outbreaks of foodborne illness. The FDA reported three hepatitis A virus outbreaks and one norovirus outbreak linked to frozen berries in the United States from 1997 to 2016.

Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are delicate and may become contaminated with bacteria or viruses if handled by an infected worker who does not use appropriate hand hygiene, or if exposed to contaminated agricultural water or a contaminated surface, like a harvesting tote. Freezing preserves berries but generally does not kill viruses, which can survive at low temperatures.

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Questions and Answers

The FDA plans to collect samples throughout the year, across all seasons.

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Results as of 10/1/2019

The FDA began collecting and testing frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries) in November 2018. This assignment is anticipated to last about two years. The FDA may adjust the number of samples to be collected or the collection timeline based on factors that the agency may encounter during the assignments.

The information that follows presents the laboratory results through September 30, 2019, as interim figures subject to potential revision. The FDA will publish a summary report of its results (to include final figures and breakdowns of its findings) once the assignment is complete. People who wish to see an example report on the FDA’s food product surveillance sampling can view any of the agency’s summary reports listed at the bottom of its microbiological surveillance sampling page.

In the event that samples are found to be positive for microbial hazards, the FDA will consider regulatory and enforcement options. Enforcement activities include actions to correct and prevent violations, and to remove violative food from the market.  The agency will detail any enforcement action it takes in its summary report(s).

The FDA plans to collect 2,000 samples of frozen berries (1,000 domestic, and 1,000 of international origin) under this assignment. As of September 30, 2019, the agency had collected and tested 339 domestic samples (34 percent) and 473 import samples (47 percent) of the totals. The following figures summarize the interim sampling results. As the testing is still underway, no conclusions can be drawn at this time.

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Frozen Berries Sampling - Domestic Findings as of 10/1/2019

Frozen Berries Sampling - Import Findings as of 10/1/2019

Additional Information

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