FDA begins testing berries for hepatitis A as outbreak spreads - The Packer

FDA begins testing berries for hepatitis A as outbreak spreads

06/18/2013 12:50:00 PM
Coral Beach

Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant BlendCourtesy Townsend FarmsThis is one of the labels from the Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries that is under recall by Townsend Farms Inc., Fairview, Ore., because of links to an eight-state outbreak of hepatitis A.An increasing number of people are becoming infected with hepatitis A linked to a frozen berry mix marketed by Townsend Farms Inc. as the Food and Drug Administration begins testing the product weeks after an initial public warning May 31.

“FDA is inspecting the processing facilities of Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore. The FDA has also finalized a protocol to test berries for the Hepatitis A virus (HAV), and is testing samples related to the outbreak,” according to a June 17 update from the agency.

As of June 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 118 people sickened in eight states, with 47 admitted to hospitals. Of the 112 sick people interviewed, the CDC said 71% reported eating the berry mix before becoming ill.

The CDC report revealed Townsend distributed the product to Costco stores in a dozen states, but illnesses have only been reported in eight.

Confirmed cases linked to the berries started March 16 and are now reported in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Washington. The berries were also distributed to Costco stores in Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.

Townsend also supplied the berry mix of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries and pomegranate arils to the Harris Teeter grocery store chain in the Northeast, but no illnesses have been reported linked to the Organic Antioxidant Blend sold at Harris Teeter stores, according to the CDC update.

Townsend recalled the product June 3 citing food safety concerns because “pomegranate seeds (in the mixed berries) processed in Turkey may be linked to an illness outbreak outside of the United States.” Both Costco and Harris Teeter pulled the product from stores days before Townsend recalled it, company officials said.

In Oregon, the Jackson County Health Department is warning customers of Evo’s Coffee Lounge, Ashland, that they may have been exposed to Hepatitis A in the coffee shop’s “Radically Free” smoothies served between May 17 and June 12 because the Townsend product was still in use after the recall.

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florida  |  June, 24, 2013 at 07:34 AM


Mischa Popoff    
Osoyoos BC  |  July, 11, 2013 at 11:44 AM

The organic industry is regulated by the USDA, not the FDA. If the USDA would just do its job, the outbreak from hepatitis-A-infected certified-organic frozen berries and pomegranate seeds that caused 140 people across 8 states to fall ill and sent 61 to hospital, could have been avoided. If the FDA picks up the slack for the USDA on organic imports, it will only let the USDA off the hook and allow it to continue wasting our tax dollars. For years the USDA has failed to keep a close eye on organic farms. Now President Obama and his Sec. of Ag. Tom Vilsack are pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes by pretending this outbreak is due to improper hand washing instead of improper composting, this in spite of the fact that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have made no such determination.

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