Townsend Farms releases lot codes, best by dates for frozen berries recall; Packages sold at Costco

49 cases of hepatitis A may be linked to berries

DENVER - The company voluntarily recalling its frozen berries over concerns about possible hepatitis A contamination has released the lot codes and best by dates for the recalled products.

The suspected source of the outbreak is Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries purchased from Costco stores and Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend sold at Harris Tweeter stores. The blend includes cherries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, raspberries and strawberries. Townsend Farms said pomegranate seeds processed in Turkey may be linked to an illness outbreak.

Townsend Farms said it is recalling the 3 pound bags of Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend with UPC code: 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.

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control has identified 49 people whose cases of acute hepatitis A may be linked to the berries. There are 12 cases in Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The first people became ill on April 29.

"The state health department is asking people to check their freezers. If you have the product, dispose of it. Do not eat it," Health Department spokesman Mark Salley said in a news release.

Hepatitis A virus is spread as a result of fecal contamination and may be spread from person to person through close contact or through food handling. The virus is commonly spread by contaminated food or beverages.

If you've eaten the berries during the past two weeks, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommends contacting a doctor for an immunization. However, if you've been vaccinated in the past you don't need to be vaccinated again.

Early signs of hepatitis A appear two to six weeks after exposure. Symptoms commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, dark urine and jaundice (yellow eyes or skin). It is very important if you have these symptoms that you do not go to work, especially if you work in food service, health care or child care.

The disease varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting four to six weeks or longer. Hepatitis A infection can be severe and can result in hospitalization. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice and may have an illness so mild it can go unnoticed. However, even mildly ill people can be highly infectious. People with symptoms suggestive of hepatitis should consult a physician immediately, even if symptoms are mild.