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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Costco Berries Sicken 153 in 9 States with Hepatitis A

Arizona (22), California (75), Colorado (27), Hawaii (8), New Hampshire (1), New Mexico (9), Nevada (6), Utah (3), and Wisconsin (2).

The CDC reports today that as of July 24, 2013, 153 people have been confirmed to have become ill from hepatitis A after eating “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” in 9 states. [Note: The cases reported from Wisconsin resulted from exposure to the product in California, and the cases reported from New Hampshire reported fruit exposure after traveling to Nevada.]

Illness onset dates range from 3/31/2013 – 7/9/2013.

66 (44%) ill people (all over 18 years of age) have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

The major outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus, belonging to genotype 1B, was found in clinical specimens of 89 people in eight states: AZ (11), CA (34), CO (23), HI (7), NH (1 – travel to Nevada), NM (6), NV (6) and WI (2 – the person was exposed in California). This genotype is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in North Africa and the Middle East.

By combining information gained from FDA’s traceback and traceforward investigations and the CDC’s epidemiological investigation, FDA and CDC have determined that the most likely vehicle for the hepatitis A virus appears to be a common shipment of pomegranate seeds from a company in Turkey, Goknur Foodstuffs Import Export Trading.  These pomegranate seeds were used by Townsend Farms to make the Townsend Farms and Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blends and by Scenic Fruit Company to make the Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels.