Register | Forgot Your Password? | Close

WASHINGTON (AP) - An Oregon company is recalling a frozen berry mix sold to Costco and Harris Teeter stores after the product has been linked to at least 49 hepatitis A illnesses in seven states.

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., is recalling its frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend, packaged under the Townsend Farms label at Costco and under the Harris Teeter brand at those stores.

Also Tuesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control said the illness count has risen from 34 to 49 people. Illnesses were reported last week in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California, and CDC said that there are additional illnesses reported in Hawaii and Utah. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said 12 of the cases are in that state.

The recall came three days after the FDA and the CDC first announced a suspected link between the berries and the illnesses. The agency did not say why there was not an immediate recall.

Costco has stores across the country, while Harris Teeter stores are in eight East Coast states and the District of Columbia. Both grocery chains said they have pulled the product from store shelves.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that can last from a few weeks to a several months. People often contract it when an infected food handler prepares food without appropriate hand hygiene. The CDC said that food already contaminated with the virus can also cause outbreaks, as is suspected in this case.

The FDA said it is inspecting the processing facilities of Townsend Farms. The CDC said the strain of hepatitis is rarely seen in North or South America but is found in the North Africa and Middle East regions.

Bill Gaar, a lawyer for Townsend Farms, said last week that the frozen organic blend bag includes pomegranate seeds from Turkey. The seeds are only used in the product associated with the outbreak and no other Townsend Farms products, he said.

"We do have very good records, we know where the (pomegranate seeds) came from, we're looking into who the broker is and we're sourcing it back up the food chain to get to it," Gaar said.

Hepatitis A illnesses occur within 15 to 50 days of exposure to the virus. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool.

Vaccination can prevent illness if given within two weeks of exposure, and those who have already been vaccinated are unlikely to become ill, according to CDC.

CDC said the first illnesses were reported at the end of April. The same genotype of hepatitis A was identified in an outbreak in Europe linked to frozen berries this year, the CDC said, as well as a 2012 outbreak in British Columbia related to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt. The agency said the Townsend Farms berries included products from Argentina and Chile in addition to the United States and Turkey.

___

Follow Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mcjalonick


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
share this story:
Attention KTAR.com Comment Users: We have recently changed our comments boards.
We would like you to be part of the conversation and The Voice of Arizona by logging in with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing KTAR (Arizona Sports) account members will need to create a Disqus account or use one of the aforementioned social media logins. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus

World Class Arizona

  • Dignity Health

    World Class People. World Class Company. Excellent care, delivered with compassion, for all in need.
  • CopperPoint Mutual Insurance Company

    SCF Arizona has a new name. They are now CopperPoint Mutual Insurance Company.
  • Taylor Morrison

    World Class People. World Class Company. We are a national home builder committed to building homes inspired by you.
  • Go Daddy

    World Class People. World Class Company. Go Daddy is a Fortune 100 "Best Companies to Work For."
  • Avnet

    World Class People. World Class Company. Here's information on a Fortune 500 company from Arizona.

Voice For A Better Arizona

  • Working For Arizona

    The business and economics of Arizona at the start of 2014 and looking forward.
  • Arizonans In Need

    Putting a focus on charities and organizations who provide help and/or need your help to fulfill their missions.
close

Share: