October 15, 2018

Townsend Farms Attorney Says Pomegranate Seeds Caused Costco Hepatitis A Outbreak

Townsend Farms frozen berries sold at Costco have been associated with an outbreak of Hepatitis A in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, according to the CDC. Investigators have traced back the source of the outbreak to pomegranate seeds from Turkey that are in the Townsend Farms berry mix sold at Costco, according to Townsend Farms attorney William E. Gaar and the CDC.

Townsend Farms Berries HepatitisPreliminary studies of specimens from two people sickened in this outbreak suggest the outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus (HAV) is genotype 1B. This strain is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in the North Africa and Middle East regions, according to the CDC.  This same genotype 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.

According to the label, The Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend frozen berry mix associated with illness contained pomegranate seeds and other produce from the US, Argentina, Chile,  and Turkey.

To date, 30 people have been confirmed to have acute hepatitis A. Nine of them were hospitalized with the infection, which inflames the liver and can cause liver failure. Health officials expect these numbers to climb.

State health departments, the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC continue to investigate. The CDC sent investigators to the Townsend Farms processing plant in Fairview, Oregon, to do product and environmental testing for hepatitis A.

Attorneys Fred Pritzker, Brendan Flaherty and their Bad Bug Law Team help hepatitis A victims and their families get compensation for hospital and other expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages. They have won lawsuit settlements against some of the largest food processors and retailers in the United States.

Comments

  1. Lori Pion says:

    What about the brand Nature’s Touch?? I have been using the mixed berries that also contains pomagranate..I am now worried.

    • Linda Larsen says:

      The FDA has said that no other Townsend Farms products or fresh fruit are part of the recall.

  2. Should there be any concern about fresh pomegranates purchased from Kroger’s or any other store?

  3. Suzanne says:

    Is there any new information on the other products like the Organic Berry Supreme (Blueberry/Strawberry mix)? I bought and used this product just last week and I’m worried.

  4. Karen Addicks says:

    I just spoke to a rep at our local Costco in San Bernardino, CA. They request the empty package for a refund. She also referred me to the FDA for further health impact info in regards to this recall. The FDA rep was very knowledgable but concluded with the advice that our personal physician is the right source for specific health concerns. Costco suggests filing an incident report with them if there are costs associated with the recall.

  5. I am wondering if we should be worried about the same blend from Sunrise Growers? Almost had a heart attack when I saw this story because my son and I have been making smoothies the last week! Should I be concerned??

    • Linda Larsen says:

      We don’t know yet. Keep checking back with us; we’re researching this issue.

      • The sunrise growers label shows they get fruit from Turkey too. I’m returning mine!!

    • Check the label on Sunrise Growers. The source of the Townsend Farms issue, according to news stories at the moment, are pomegranate seeds sourced from Turkey. The label on Sunrise Growers ALSO lists Turkey as a country of origin. I’m returning my bags of Sunrise Growers to Costco as well. Not worth the risk.

  6. We buy TONS of these bags from Costco to put in our smoothies. I have 2 unopened bags (bought a couple months ago) from Costco in Salt Lake City, Utah. I noticed UT is not mentioned as an outbreak state. WHile I am not too concerned about myself, I am more worried for my 3 yr old who loves the smoothies I make for her with these berries. I think I know my answer, and I’m going to check her immunization records to see if she has had HEP A vacc, but should I just throw these away? Probably not worth the 10 or 20 bucks they cost to keep them around considering the risk?

  7. We shop at Costco frequently for frozen fruit for smoothies. The anti-oxidant blend is not the only mixed blend that Costco carries from Townsend Farms. It is possible that other blends were contaminated through contact with the same packaging equipment?

    • Linda Larsen says:

      We don’t know yet; the investigation is in its very early stages. Keep checking back; we’ll keep you up to date.

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