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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Townsend Farms Issues a “Voluntary” Recall – Finally: FDA Still Silent

The below Press Release landed in my inbox a few moments ago, although nothing is on the Townsend Farms website and nothing can be found on the FDA’s either.  You have to wonder why this recall is “Voluntary” when the product has been linked by the CDC to “34 people ill with acute hepatitis A that may be linked with consumption of a contaminated product have been reported by five states: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and California. These numbers are expected to change as the investigation continues.”  In addition, people across the country have been checking their freezers and trying to recall if they ate the product and when.  Thousands have been seeking medical attention to get Hepatitis A or Ig shots.

Where is the FDA?

And, then there is this odd comment below: “Thirty-four cases of Hepatitis A are being investigated to date in the U.S.; all are recovering.”  How does Townsend Farms know that “all are recovering?”  Did they talk to the the man I spoke with late yesterday whose partner is still hospitalized in an Arizona hospital?  Apparently not!

Townsend Farms, Inc. of Fairview, Oregon, today announced that it is voluntarily recalling certain lots of its frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend, out of an abundance of caution, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Hepatitis A virus, based on an ongoing epidemiological and traceback investigation by the FDA and the 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 recalled codes are located on the back of the package with the words “BEST BY”; followed by the code T012415 sequentially through T053115, followed by a letter.  All of these letter designations are included in this recall for the lot codes listed above. Photos of the package are attached.

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 and UPC 0 72036 70463 4, with “BEST BY” codes of T041615E or T041615C. Photos of the packaging are attached.

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.  Thirty-four cases of Hepatitis A are being investigated to date in the U.S.; all are recovering. At this time, Hepatitis A has not been found in the product, but Townsend Farms is taking this precautionary action in consultation with the FDA, as the investigation continues.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from exposure to the Hepatitis A virus, including from food. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Illness generally occurs within 15 to 50 days of exposure and includes fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool. Hepatitis A vaccination can prevent illness if given within two weeks of exposure to a contaminated food. In rare cases, particularly consumers who have a pre- existing severe illness or are immune compromised, Hepatitis A infection can progress to liver failure.

Persons who may have consumed affected product should consult with their health care professional or local health department to determine if a vaccination is appropriate, and consumers with symptoms of Hepatitis A should contact their health care professionals or the local health department immediately.  Consumers with the product should not consume the product.  The product should be disposed of immediately.  Please keep proof of product purchase.