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Ventura Hepatitis A Illness May Be Linked to Contaminated Berries

By Renee Nordstrand on June 11, 2013

Ventura County Public Health officials are reporting that the first case of Hepatitis A possibly linked to a contaminated frozen berry smoothie mix has been documented in Ventura County.

The berry mix, which was sold and distributed by Townsend Farms in Oregon, was recently recalled after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) started receiving reports of Hepatitis A cases in Illinois and South Carolina. The agencies determined that the outbreak might be linked to a frozen berry smoothie mix packaged and sold by Townsend Farms.

In California, the Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries were sold in Costco stores. Ventura County officials say that about 400 packages were sold in the county before the recall took effect. Costco has removed the packages from its shelves and claims that it is trying to contact customers who may have bought the contaminated product.

So far, there have been 40 reported cases of Hepatitis A potentially linked to the contaminated frozen berries nationwide. Three cases have required hospitalization. There have also been seven reports of infections in California. The Ventura County victim reportedly has been ill for a couple of weeks, but has not required hospitalization.

The strain of Hepatitis A associated with this outbreak is fairly rare in North America and South America, but it is more prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa. A spokesman for Townsend Farms admitted that the frozen berry mix contained pomegranate seeds that had been imported from Turkey.

The product liability attorneys at the Law Offices of Reneé J. Nordstrand will be watching this story with great interest as it progresses. It is a manufacturer’s, a distributor’s or a retailer’s duty to assure that any product it manufactures, sells or distributes is safe for the consumer. If it is not, they should be held liable for injuries those products cause.

Have you or a loved one been sickened by a contaminated food product? Call our Santa Barbara office at (805) 962-2022 or our Encino office at (818) 981-3530 or contact us online to learn what your legal options might be.