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3rd Bay Area Hepatitis A Case Linked to Frozen Berries Sold at Costco

Three Bay Area cases of Hepatitis A have now been linked to the national outbreak of the disease apparently traced to certain lots of "organic antioxidant" frozen berries produced by Townsend Farms and sold at Costco and Harris Teeter stores.

A label from the recalled Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant frozen mixed berries. Photo: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
A label from the recalled Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant frozen mixed berries. Photo: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Editor's note: Townsend Farms, maker of the apparently tainted Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries, issued a voluntary recall on Tuesday of certain 3-pound bag lots of the product, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration said. See the bottom of this article for which lots are affected.

By Bay City News Service


A Hepatitis A case linked to a recalled frozen berry product has been reported in Santa Clara County and is at least the third case from the tainted berries in the Bay Area, public health officials said.

The 22-year-old woman who fell ill was hospitalized in late May but was released and is recovering, Santa Clara Public Health Department spokeswoman Amy Cornell said.

The Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries sold at Costco Wholesale warehouses has been linked to cases spanning multiple states, Cornell said.

The product has since been recalled but may be sold at other stores. Costco is warning anyone who purchased the product since late February not to eat them. The blend includes frozen cherries, pomegranate arils, strawberries, red raspberries and blueberries.

An ongoing investigation is being conducted by state health departments, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As of Monday there have been over 30 Hepatitis A cases connected with the fruit blend in five states including California. [Patch editor's note: The CDC was reporting on its website Tuesday night that there have been at least 49 cases in seven states.]

An east Contra Costa County woman was hospitalized for Hepatitis A last month in connection to the frozen berry blend, Contra Costa Health Services spokeswoman Kate Fowlie said.

The 62-year-old woman was hospitalized last month and has since recovered, Fowlie said.

Alameda County also confirmed one case of Hepatitis A linked to the frozen berry product, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department. That individual was hospitalized, treated and released.

A Costco Wholesale warehouse at 300 Vintage Way in Novato sold 3,000 bags of the product from mid-February through late May, according to the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services.

Hepatitis A symptoms can appear two and six weeks after consumption and can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, joint pain, pale stool and jaundice.

Anyone who has recently purchased the product is advised to dispose of it, according to county health departments.

People who have consumed the product in the past two weeks should consult their health care provider and monitor their condition, San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon said.

Those who have been fully vaccinated for Hepatitis A are immune from contracting the disease, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Copyright © 2012 by Bay City News, Inc. – Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. 
 
Details of Townsend Farms recall

The FDA offered this description of the products recalled voluntarily by Townsend on Monday:

The product was sold at Costco warehouse stores under the product name Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, 3 lb. bag and UPC 0 78414 404448. The recalled codes are located on the back of the package with the words “BEST BY”; followed by the code T012415 sequentially through T053115, followed by a letter. All of these letter designations are included in this recall for the lot codes listed above.

The product was also sold at Harris Teeter stores from April 19 until May 7, 2013, under the product name Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend, 10 oz. bag UPC 0 72036 70463 4. The correct “Lot” and “best by” codes are as follows: Lot Codes T041613E, T0401613C and a “BEST BY” code of 101614

Photos of labels of the products can be seen here.

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