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Multistate outbreak of hepatitis A virus infections linked to pomegranate seeds from Turkey (Final Update)

This particular outbreak appears to be over. However, Viral Hepatitis is still an important cause of human illness in the United States. More information about Viral Hepatitis, and steps people can take to reduce their risk of infection, can be found on the CDC Viral Hepatitis website.


Recalls

Townsend Farms:

Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend

Townsend Farms, Inc. of Fairview Oregon has announced that it is voluntarily recalling certain lots of its frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend because it has the potential to be contaminated with hepatitis A virus.

Product label from Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend

Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend

On June 3, 2013, Townsend Farms recalled all product sold at Costco warehouse stores under the name Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, 3 lb. bag and UPC 0 78414 40444 8.  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.

Costco notified its members who purchased this product since late February 2013, and has removed the “Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend” frozen berry and pomegranate mix from its shelves.  The product was distributed in 12 states (AZ, AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, and WA); however, no cases from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington have been linked to the outbreak at this time.

On June 28, 2013, Townsend Farms, Inc. of Fairview, Oregon, expanded its voluntary recall efforts and is now recalling Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, 3 lb. bag with UPC 0 78414 40444 8. The recall codes are located on the back of the package with the words "BEST BY" followed by the code T122114 sequentially through T053115, followed by a letter. All letter designations are included in the voluntary recall.


Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend

Product label from Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend

Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend

This product was also sold at Harris Teeter stores from April 19, 2013 – May 7,2013 under the product name Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend, 10 oz. bag and UPC 0 72036 70463 4, The correct "Lot" and "best by" codes are as follows: Lot Codes T041613E, T041613C and a "BEST BY" code of 101614.

Consumers should not consume the product.  The product should be disposed of immediately.  Please keep proof of purchase and contact Townsend Farms Customer Service by phone or email at 1-800-875-5291, townsendfarms5148@stericycle.com.

Scenic Fruit Company:

Product label from Scenic Fruit Company

Woodstock Organic Pomegranate Kernels

On June 26, 2013, Scenic Fruit Company of Gresham, Oregon recalled specific lots of Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels because they have the potential to be contaminated with the hepatitis A virus.

Woodstock Organic Pomegranate Kernels are sold in eight-ounce (227 gram) resealable plastic pouches (see image) with UPC Code 0 42563 01628 9. Specific coding information to identify the product can be found on the back portion of these pouches below the zip-lock seal. The following lots are subject to this recall:

C 0129 (A, B, or C) 035 with a best by date of 02/04/2015
C 0388 (A, B, or C) 087 with a best by date of 03/28/2015
C 0490 (A, B, or C) 109 with a best by date of 04/19/2015

Products were shipped from February 2013 through May 2013 to United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI)distribution centers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington State. UNFI distribution centers may have further distributed products to retail stores in other states.

 

Advice to Consumers

Contaminated products containing pomegranate seeds may make people sick.

Contaminated products containing pomegranate seeds may still be in peoples’ homes and freezers.

  • Discard any recalled products in your home and freezer.
    • Even if some of the product has been eaten without anyone in your home becoming ill, the rest of the product should be discarded.

As epidemiologic investigations have not linked Woodstock Organic Pomegranate Kernels to any human cases of hepatitis A, evidence is lacking for wide-spread post-exposure prophylaxis at this time. State health departments can make decisions regarding post-exposure prophylaxis based on their assessment of local circumstances.  

  • These additional products have not been linked to anyone known to be ill with hepatitis A.
  • These additional products were recalled as a precaution.
  • If you have other indications for vaccination, underlying health issues, or  wish to be vaccinated, you should talk to your health care provider.
  • The investigation is on-going and recommendations regarding vaccination could change.
  • Hepatitis A vaccination can prevent illness if given within 14 days of exposure to the hepatitis A virus.

An epidemiologic investigation has linked Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berry and pomegranate mix to cases of hepatitis A.  The Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blend is the same product sold under a different brand.  If you have eaten either the Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berry and pomegranate mix or the Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blend within the last 14 days, you need to get the hepatitis A vaccination.

  • Hepatitis A vaccination can prevent illness if given within 14 days of exposure to the hepatitis A virus.
    • Contact your health care provider to be vaccinated.
    • If you don’t have a doctor or other health care provider, contact your health department. You can find your health department contact information at this website.
    • If you have already received the hepatitis A vaccination in the past, you are unlikely to become ill with the disease.

If you have any of the symptoms of hepatitis A, seek medical care right away. Symptoms of hepatitis A include:

  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale stools
  • Dark urine

You can help prevent the spread of the hepatitis A virus and other germs.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after preparing food and drinks.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly right after using the bathroom and changing diapers.
  • Disinfect kitchen counters, cutting boards, and cooking utensils after use.

See Hepatitis A Vaccination Questions and Answers for more information.

 

Advice to Retailers

 

Clinical Features:

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A virus infection

  • Illness occurs within 15 – 50 days of exposure and symptoms can includes fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine, and pale stool.
  • Hepatitis A is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). The virus is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter—even in microscopic amounts—from contact with objects, food, or water contaminated by feces or stool from an infected person. Contamination of food can happen at any point: growing, harvesting, processing, handling, and even after cooking.
  • In rare cases, particularly in patients with pre-existing severe illness or immune compromise, HAV infection can progress to liver failure and death. Persons with underlying liver conditions should be vaccinated.

« Read the full Outbreak Investigation

For more information:
http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/

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