July 2, 2022

Costco-Townsend Farms Hepatitis A Lawsuit Update: Lawyer Pursues Victim Compensation

Several hepatitis A lawsuits have been filed against Costco Wholesale Corporation, a Washington company, and Townsend Farms, Inc., an Oregon company. These suits seek compensation for victims of an outbreak of hepatitis A infections linked to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries sold at Costco stores. To date, 47 people have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Townsend Farms and Costco Hepatitis A“We are seeking compensation for our clients who were diagnosed with hepatitis A after eating Townsend Farms berries,” said Fred Pritzker, an attorney representing people from several states. “Hepatitis A is a dangerous pathogen, and these contaminated berries should never have reached the market where they could sicken over 100 people.”

This outbreak started in March of 2013. To date, illness onset dates for the  outbreak range from March 16 to June 8 of 2013. “We have been contacted by several people who have been diagnosed with hepatitis A whose cases have not been confirmed by the CDC. Because the contaminated product is frozen food, we may see additional hepatitis A cases for several months,” said Pritzker.

In April and May of 2013, the CDC detected a spike in individuals diagnosed with hepatitis A virus. The CDC, along with state and local health departments, launched an epidemiological and microbiological investigation of sickened individuals. The states involved in this outbreak include the following: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Washington.

Laboratory studies of specimens from two people with hepatitis A determined that the outbreak strain of hepatitis A is genotype 1B. This strain is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in the North Africa and Middle East regions. The same strain was identified in a 2013 outbreak in Europe linked to frozen berries and another 2012 outbreak in British Columbia related to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt. In the present outbreak, by questioning the individuals and families of those stricken by the rare strain of hepatitis A, investigators identified “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” frozen berries as the common source.

By June 3, 2013, Costco began notifying its customers that they may have been exposed to packages of Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend that were contaminated with hepatitis A. On June 4, 2013, Townsend Farms issued a “voluntary” recall of certain lots of that product because of potential contamination with hep A.

As of June 17, 2013, the CDC reported that consumption of Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend had caused 106 cases of acute Hepatitis A, spread over eight states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Washington.

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