Recalled frozen berry mix linked to hepatitis A outbreak still making consumers sick

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by Jay Pate

A frozen berry juice mix linked to an outbreak of hepatitis A is still making people sick despite being recalled more than two weeks ago. Townsend Farms of Fairview, Oregon recalled its “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” on June 3 after several cases of hepatitis A were reported among consumers who had purchased the juice blend.

According to a report published this week by The Oregonian newspaper, new cases of hepatitis A linked to the Townsend Farms juice blend are still being reported in spite of the nationwide recall. Food and Drug Administration investigators found that at least one restaurant was still serving food that contained the contaminated juice blend as recently as last week.

So far, at least 118 people have been sickened as a result of drinking theTownsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend. At least 47 of these cases resulted in patients who were sent to the hospital due to the severity of their symptoms. Cases of hepatitis A linked to the recalled juice blend have been reported in eight states so far: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials, all of the consumers who have become sick purchased the juice mix from Costco. The same product was also sold on the east coast at Harris Teeter stores under the brand name “Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend.” So far there have been no cases of hepatitis A linked to sale of the juice at Harris Teeter stores.

Hepatitis A is a type of liver infection that is spread through a virus. The disease is often transmitted when a food is prepared under unsanitary conditions, exposing others who eat or handle this food to a risk of infection. Symptoms of hepatitis A include high fever, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and joint pain. Some patients who develop a severe case of hepatitis A may develop liver failure and require a liver transplant.

Consumers who purchased Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend juice mix from Costco between February and May 2013 have been advised to have themselves vaccinated for hepatitis A in order to limit their risk of developing the disease. Costco has announced that it will reimburse the cost of the hepatitis A vaccine to anyone who purchased the recalled berry juice from Costco stores, as well as making the vaccine available in all Costco pharmacies to consumers who were affected by the recall.

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