Food Safety

Published on May 31st, 2013 | by Tanya Sitton


Hepatitis-A Outbreak Linked to Frozen Berries


The CDC, FDA, and other agencies are investigating a hepatitis outbreak linked to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries, purchased from Costco. So far the illness has affected at least 30 people. No formal recall has been issued yet, but a freezer check may be in order!

According to Food Safety News, the Townsend Farms product linked to the Hep-A outbreak is

…an organic blend of cherries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, raspberries and strawberries. Costco has removed this product from its shelves, but has not yet issued a formal recall. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the product, including testing berries for the Hepatitis A virus, which may take several weeks.

The Costco-sourced frozen berries apparently behind the outbreak have sickened 30 people in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.  The outbreak follows European hep-A problems linked to frozen berries, earlier this month, though it’s unclear at this time whether the cases are linked.

Hepatitis A is spread through fecal contamination of food products, and causes symptoms including fever, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dark urine, and jaundice. Symptoms usually appear 2-6 weeks after eating food contaminated by the hepatitis A virus.

There’s a vaccine that can prevent infection, if it’s given within 14 days of exposure; if you’ve eaten these berries within the last two weeks, ask a medical professional if you should receive a hepatitis A vaccine. If you’ve had this vaccine before, you don’t need to repeat it.

More than 14 days from hepatitis A exposure, the vaccine is ineffective; contact your physician if you develop symptoms. People exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A infection should stay home from work, especially those who work in food service, child care, or health care settings.

Image credit: Creative Commons photo by J. Chris Vaughan.

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About the Author

is an ecovore, veganist, messy chef, green girl, food revolutionary, and general free-thinkin' rabble-rouser. M.S. in a health profession, with strong interests in biology, nutrition, and healthy living - find her on .

6 Responses to Hepatitis-A Outbreak Linked to Frozen Berries

  1. I’m torn, because I have a bag of frozen berries and cherries from Trader Joe’s. They repackage stuff sometimes, so maybe best to swap them for something else?

    • Darren says:

      Be careful. My mom told me early today that she felt sick and mentioned having oatmeal with frozen berries for breakfast. Then I saw the article about the Costco berries, so I called her, and she told me she didn’t have the Costco berries but did have the Trader Joes ones with the cherries. So I’m on the ‘net researching this and saw your note. Actually, my mom did have the Costco ones before but thinks it was prior to late February.

      • I think I’m going to avoid eating them for now to be on the safe side and try to return them next time I make a trip to TJ’s. Thank you for telling me about your mom – I’d rather err on the safe side with this one!

      • TH says:

        I doubt that the berries were the cause of her discomfort. The article said symptoms show abt. 2 weeks after consumption. So, I am assuming she just ate the berries that day, but you didn’t mention if she had had any in the past few weeks.
        As for whether to trade in your berries…..the motto is usually “better safe than sorry”.

    • Michael says:

      A CNN article says only Costco sold the product.

  2. Pingback: Potty Talk: Is Toilet Paper Toxic? - Green Living Ideas

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