Frozen Smoothie Mix Linked to Hepatitis A Contamination; 7 States

More than 60 people in seven states are now sick with acute hepatitis A infections, which are linked to a contaminated frozen berry and pomegranate mix sold nationwide at Costco and Harrison Teeter stores.

Officials with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) say the numbers could increase, as the ongoing investigation into Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend continues.

At least 11 people have been hospitalized from this outbreak, including victims in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The affected victims range in age from 2 to 71, with illnesses reported between April 29th and May 27th.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it is inspecting the processing facilities of Townsend Farms.

Laboratory testing of specimens from two states indicate that the outbreak strain of hepatitis A is rarely seen in the United States, but circulates widely in North Africa and the Middle East, as reported by the CDC.

It is believed that the suspect culprit in the frozen fruit mixture could possibly be pomegranate seeds, which are processed in Turkey, as indicated by Townsend officials. The fruit mix also includes produce from the U.S., Argentina and Chile, according to the ingredients.

Several of the people who were affected by the acute hepatitis A, a contagious liver infection that can last from a few weeks to several months, have filed lawsuits against Townsend Farms and Costco already. Others are joining a class action lawsuit involving people who consumed the potentially contaminated fruit and then got immune globulin or hepatitis A shots to prevent illness.

Approximately three quarters of the victims interviewed reported eating the blend of fruit from the Fairview, Oregon firm, the CDC said. The product was sold from late February at Costco stores and at Harris Teeter stores from April 19 to May 7. People who ate the frozen berry mix may be able to avoid illness if they receive the shots within two weeks of consumption.

It was reported that accurate records are kept and they can pinpoint from where the suspect contaminated pomegranate seeds came.  They will investigate who the broker is and will go from there.

Townsend Farms has recalled certain lots of its frozen organic antioxidant blend.

Hepatitis A is caused when people ingest even the smallest amounts of feces. It is typically caused when an infected food handler prepares food without using appropriate hand hygiene. However, the food itself can also become contaminated, which is suspected in this outbreak.

Consumers who still have this product in their freezer should return to store for refund.

For more information contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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