Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Costco Berries
A product that was supposed to be full of healthful organic anti-oxidant goodness has made a lot of people very sick, say health officials who have traced an outbreak of Hepatitis A to a frozen berry and pomegranate blend sold at Costco.
The affected brand is Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend Frozen Berry Mix, which is frozen mix of berries and pomegranate seeds. Since the connection was uncovered, all packages were removed from Costco’s shelves and the company says it is notifying all Costco members who purchased the product since late February, USA Today reports.
So far 30 people in five states have been sickened by the tainted berry blend. The first infections were discovered April 29, and the most recent was found on May 19. More infections are anticipated.
A particular danger is that frozen berry blends like this one are often used to make smoothies or frozen drinks, or used in the creation of desserts or other items. Some restaurants and foodservice operations buy some of their ingredients in bulk from Costco, and there is some concern that the frozen berries could have been picked up by a smoothie restaurant or other type of operation and served to unwitting customers.
Hepatitis A is highly contagious and can be transmitted by food to people who eat it or food handlers who prepare it. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal and joint pain.
The CDC says it does not yet know if the product in question was sold at other stores or just Costco.