A hepatitis A outbreak tied to a frozen berry mix sold at Costco stores has now affected at least 118 people in eight states
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that 51 people have been hospitalized in the hepatitis A outbreak, which has lasted several months. The illnesses have been reported from March until early June, lined to Townsend Farms Antioxidant Blend.
The company has cooperated with the CDC and Food and Drug Administration to inspect its farms.
The hepatitis A cases have all been tied to people who purchased frozen berry and pomegranate mix, which was distributed to Costco stores in 12 states. Illnesses have now been reported in in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington.
The hepatitis A strain found in the berry mix has also been identified in other outbreaks related to frozen berries, with other unrelated cases reported in 2012. Hepatitis A is spread when food becomes contaminated with human feces or when a food handler infected with the disease does not properly wash their hands. The disease can be severe, lasting weeks or even months.
Though Costco has cooperated with federal officials on the hepatitis A outbreak, the company could still face legal trouble. A California woman is suing both Costco and Townsend Farms.
Lynda Brackenridge said she fell ill in May after eating Townsend Farms’ Organic Antioxidant Blend berries. The 51-year-old Lakewood resident went to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, where she was in guarded condition with severe liver inflammation.
Brackenridge later filed a products liability/negligence lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking unspecified damages.
“It’s very scary that this could happen to anyone,” Brackenridge said.
Health officials remain worried that the hepatitis A outbreak could spread further, as smaller businesses may have purchased the frozen berries in bulk for use in other products.