Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Bad Berries: Are These Berries in Your Freezer?

By July 12, 2013Civil - General

By Joi Kush*

Earlier this summer, an abnormal outbreak of Hepatitis A sparked a federal investigation by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA concluded that the multi-state Hepatitis A outbreak came from a common shipment of pomegranate seeds sold by a Turkish company, Goknur Foodstuffs Import Export Trading. These seeds were found in Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, a popular frozen berry mix sold at Costco stores nationwide. Over 140 people from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah have been treated for Hepatitis A which has been linked to Townsend Farms Antioxidant Blend.

Since June, Townsend Farms has voluntarily recalled their frozen berry product and Costco has contacted known purchasers to warn them about their potential exposure to Hepatitis A. Two other producers have recalled their berry products because of potential Hepatitis A contamination. As of today, the following products have been recalled:

1. Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, 3 lb. bag with UPC 0 78414 40444 8;
2. Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blend, 10 oz. bag with UPC 0 72036 70463 4 ;
3. Woodstock Frozen Organic Kernels, 8 oz. resealable plastic pouches with UPC
Code 0 42563 01628 9
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the contaminated berry products were shipped from February 2013 – May 2013 and were distributed to approximately 21 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah and Washington. As of today, the CDC has confirmed cases of Hepatitis A in Arizona (21), California (69), Colorado (28), Nevada (6), New Mexico (6), and Utah (3). All confirmed cases have been linked to Townsend Berry Organic Antioxidant Blend and Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blend. Currently, there have been no confirmed cases of Hepatitis A linked to Woodstock Frozen Organic Kernels. Because of the widespread distribution of the contaminated berry products, the number of those affected is expected to grow.

Hepatitis A is a contagious disease usually transmitted through food. The common symptoms associated with Hepatitis A are nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, dark urine, abdominal pain, pale stool, jaundice, and joint pain. Symptoms appear anywhere from 2-6 weeks after exposure and can last several months. Sometimes Hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death. Unfortunately, there is no treatment to cure Hepatitis A, but you can prevent Hepatitis A through a vaccination called immune globulin (IG).

For more information about Hepatitis A, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/A/index.htm.

Recently, the CDC has found that the outbreak strain of Hepatitis A belongs to a rare genotype 1B. This same genotype has been linked to Hepatitis A outbreaks in Europe and British Columbia. Genotype 1B is predominantly found in Japan and China, but is also found in North Africa and the Middle East.

If you or a loved one has been treated for Hepatitis A that has been linked to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, Teeter Farms Antioxidant Blend, or Woodstock Frozen Organic Kernels, contact the Gasper Law Group to speak to an attorney about a potential claim.