Recalls

Costco frozen berries linked to hepatitis A outbreak; 6 Californians affected

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Six people from California contracted hepatitis A after eating frozen berries sold at Costco stores.

Those victims are from Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties, according to the California Department of Public Health officials.

Consumers are being warned not to eat Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend Frozen Berries sold at Costco.

The hepatitis cases are part of a multi-state outbreak. The Food and Drug Administration and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a total of 30 illnesses are linked to the product nationwide. In addition to California, illnesses were reported in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona.

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the outbreak. A Costco spokesman said the company has removed the product from stores and is attempting to contact members who purchased the product in recent months.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is holding special clinics from 10 a.m - 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the following locations to offer preventive treatment to anyone who may have been exposed to this product:

  • Antelope Valley Health Center, 335 Avenue K-6, Lancaster
  • North Hollywood Health Center, 5300 Tujunga Ave., North Hollywood
  • Monrovia Health Center, 330 W. Maple Ave., Monrovia
  • Hollywood Wilshire Health Center, 5205 Melrose Ave., Hollywood
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Public Health, 11833 S. Wilmington Ave., Willowbrook
  • Whittier Health Center, 7643 S. Painter Ave., Whittier
  • Curtis Tucker Health Center, 123 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood

The FDA said it is inspecting the processing facilities of Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., which sold the mix. 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.

A lawyer for Townsend Farms said the frozen organic blend bag includes pomegranate seeds from Turkey, which are only used in the product associated with the outbreak.

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. Food already contaminated with the virus can also cause outbreaks.

Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool.

According to the CDC, all of the victims are older than 18, ranging from 25 to 71 years old. The first illnesses were reported at the end of April.

The Associated Press and the City News Service contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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