Food Recall: Costco Frozen Organic Berries Linked to Hepatitis-A Outbreak

Townsend-Farms-Hepatitis A Outbreak CostcoThis week, a producer of a frozen berries mixture sold at Costco announced that their products have been linked to Hepatitis A, and a nationwide voluntary recall has begun.

An early investigation by the FDA and Centers for Disease Control revealed that Townsend Farms organic berry blend has been linked to the virus, and is being pulled from store shelves.

Crave Local’s editor, Cassandra Branson states, “Our sources tell us that consumers are receiving automated calls from Costco informing them of the recall, and urging them to get vaccinated for Hepatitis A. The message says that it is a ‘follow up call’, and consumers should be cautious of anyone in the household who may have consumed berries directly, or in recipes such a smoothies from bags dated April 19th, 2013 through May 7th, 2013. Purchases could have been as early as late February, or more recent.

The challenge with this product is that, unlike fresh fruits, the frozen berries could remain in a  freezer for some time, particularly if they are unaware of the recall. We encourage all readers to check their freezers and share this message with friends and family, to avoid potential exposure to this virus.

At least 49 cases of Hepatitis A have been reported in 5 states, including: California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado; all are recovering from the non-life threatening disease.

A Target pharmacist in Hayward, California was also hospitalized and released with a reported case of Hepatitis A, and customers of the pharmacy have been informed that their prescriptions should be returned, in the event of possible exposure.

According to Townsend Farms, initial findings point to pomegranate seeds originating in Turkey and does not believe any contamination occurred domestically. According to the CDC, this particular strain of Hepatitis A is not usually found in the Americas but is commonly found in northern Africa and the Middle East.

Symptoms for Hepatitis A:
Symptoms for the contagious liver disease include fever, fatigue, and pain. Persons who suspect they may have contracted the virus should seek treatment immediately.

Townsend Farms says consumers should be on the lookout these products:

Costco: “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, 3 lb. bag and UPC 0 78414 404448. The recalled codes are located on the back of the package with the words ‘BEST BY’; followed by the code T012415 sequentially through T053115, followed by a letter.”

Harris Teeter: “Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend, 10 oz. bag and UPC 0 72036 70463 4, with ‘BEST BY’ codes of T041615E or T041615C,” sold from April 19 to May 7, 2013.

Source: ABC News, CBS News, Mercury News

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