Townsend Farms’ antioxidant blend linked to hepatitis A outbreak

June 5, 2013

On June 4, Townsend Farms Inc., Fairview, Ore., 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, based on an ongoing epidemiological and traceback investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) of an illness outbreak. No other Townsend Farms products, frozen or fresh, are covered by this voluntary recall or linked to the illness outbreak at this time.

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 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.

Townsend Farms is implementing this voluntary recall after learning that one of the ingredients of the frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend, pomegranate seeds processed in Turkey, may be linked to an illness outbreak outside of the United States.

According to the CDC, as of June 4, 49 people ill with acute hepatitis A that may be linked with consumption of a contaminated product have been reported by seven states: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Hawaii, and California. These numbers are expected to change as the investigation continues. Based on epidemiologic investigation of 26 cases, the illness onset dates range from April 29 thru May 24. Eleven people have been hospitalized. Nineteen of the people interviewed reported eating Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend frozen berry and pomegranate mix.

Preliminary laboratory studies of specimens from two cases suggest the outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus (HAV) is genotype 1B. This strain is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in the North Africa and Middle East regions. This genotype was identified in a 2013 outbreak in Europe linked to frozen berries and another 2012 outbreak in British Columbia related to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt.

FDA recall press release

CDC press release