Missing my flight to Seattle via London to Amsterdam allowed my to access the internet from a hotel in the old part of the city to upload this post.  It also allowed me to walk the streets and canals taking in a bit of the culture.  As I cruised past the many “coffee shops” that line the canals, it reminded me again that not everyone is as interested in food safety as I might be – well, at least those enjoying the coffee house experience.

Below is a press release (somewhat edited by me) from Townsend Farms that the FDA allows to be placed on its website.  My strong suspicion is that the media and the public think the FDA actually has a hand in it despite the warning:

FDA posts press releases and other notices of recalls and market withdrawals from the firms involved as a service to consumers, the media, and other interested parties. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company.

Townsend Farms, Inc. of Fairview, Oregon, out of an abundance of caution and in cooperation with the FDA is expanding its voluntary recall efforts and is now recalling Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, 3 lb. bag with UPC 0 78414 40444 8. The recall codes are located on the back of the package with the words “BEST BY” followed by the code T122114 sequentially through T053115, followed by a letter. All letter designations are included in the voluntary recall. The voluntary recall is occurring because of a potential hepatitis A contamination. The voluntary recall efforts are based on epidemiological and trace-back evidence resulting from an ongoing outbreak investigation conducted by the FDA and the CDC.

Townsend Farms is providing this Update #3 after the FDA and the CDC confirmed that the epidemiological evidence supports a clear association between the hepatitis A illness outbreak and one lot of organic pomegranate seeds used in the Frozen Organic Antioxidant blend subject to the voluntary recall. The implicated lot of pomegranate seeds were imported from Turkey through Goknur and Purely Pomegranate, Inc. The FDA has tested the recalled product and the results to date have not detected hepatitis A.

The FDA has also reported that the epidemiological evidence does not support an association between the illness outbreak and the four other berry products (raspberry, blueberry, strawberry and dark cherry) in the Frozen Organic Antioxidant blend (and which have also been used in other Townsend Farms, Inc. Frozen Organic products) or any other Fresh or Frozen berry products produced by Townsend Farms, Inc.

Finally, as part of the ongoing investigation, the FDA, in cooperation with Townsend Farms, Inc. has completed a directed inspection of the company’s frozen fruit repacking operations. The FDA found no evidence linking either the Townsend Farms, Inc.’s repacking facility or any food handler who had possible contact with the product to the source of the illness outbreak.

This expansion does NOT AFFECT the previous voluntary recall information regarding Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend, 10 oz. bag UPC 0 72036 70463 4. For additional information regarding the voluntarily recalled Harris Teeter product visit the FDA website http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm355166.htm.

It does not take much to see that Townsend Farms is attempting to deflect its responsibility for the largest Hepatitis A outbreak in a decade to the supplier of organic pomegranate seeds.  That is legal strategy that will not fly high.  Perhaps someone at Townsend Farms was in one of the coffee shops I passed.