September 25, 2013 — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that 162 people in 10 states have fallen ill with Hepatitis A after eating Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend, including 71 who were hospitalized. The Hepatitis A outbreak has been linked to contaminated pomegranate seeds imported from Turkey.
Townsend Farms recalled the Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend on June 3, 2013. The product was sold at Costco Wholesale and Harris Teeter grocery stores, but illnesses have only been reported in Costco customers.
Food poisoning lawsuits have been filed against Costco, Townsend Farms, Purely Pomegranate Inc., and Goknur Foodstuffs Import Export Trading in Turkey.
One class action lawsuit was filed by Suzanne Faber, who is seeking compensation for a Hepatitis A vaccine she sought after eating Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Berries from a Costco in Colorado Springs. The class is seeking to represent anyone who ate the berries and got Hepatitis A, required testing, or a vaccine. People who were in close contact with sickened individuals may also qualify to join the class action.
Products recalled include:
- Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend (frozen berry and pomegranate mix)
- Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blend
- Woodstock Organic Pomegranate Kernels
Hepatitis A is a contagious virus that spreads through the fecal-oral route and causes inflammation of the liver. It is not a chronic disease, but can cause severe illness lasting several months. Sporadic cases of Hepatitis A typically occur when infected food handlers do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. Large Hepatitis A outbreaks typically occur when water contaminated with feces contaminates fresh food during cultivation, harvesting, processing, or distribution.
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